Utility models, also known as petty patents, can be used to protect a product improvement or a new product, device or system. Methods, however, cannot be protected with utility models. Generally, the processing time for a utility model application is only a few months – in other words, not long enough for competitors to copy the invention. This prevents other companies from exploiting the results of the product development process without having to provide compensation. The speedy process also enables prompt legal measures against any company trying to copy the invention. A utility model resembles a patent in that it entitles its holder to prohibit others from professionally using the invention. Professional use entails, for example, the production, sale, import and use of a product protected with a utility model.
To qualify for a utility model, the invention must be new, inventive and industrially viable. The required level of inventiveness, however, is lower than that for patents. Utility model applications only undergo a formal examination; the novelty and innovation of the inventions are not studied. This allows for fast and inexpensive processing. Utility models have shorter validity periods than patents, which makes them particularly suitable for inventions with short life cycles. Despite its short life cycle, a new technical solution with practical value may have a high demand and become a commercial success.
Applying for a utility model is advisable when the invention does not meet the high level of inventiveness required from patents. Because of their cost-efficiency, utility models are better suited than patents for protecting inventions in rapidly outdating fields of technology as well as inventions intended only for the Finnish market or another geographically limited area.
Mr. Markus Levlin, European Patent Attorney,tel. +358 10 227 2243
Mr. Kim Simelius, Managing Director, Patent Attorney, tel. +358 10 227 2610
Mrs. Kaisa Suominen, Managing Director, European Patent Attorney, tel. +358 10 227 2550