What is a Utility Patent?

An Overview of Utility Model Patents

Utility model patents, also referred to as “petty patents” or “innovation patents”, can be a viable option for applicants who do not have the time, funds or even an invention required for a typical patent application. Discussing this topic can cause confusion since certain jurisdictions (such as the US) refer to their regular patents as utility patents. To keep things clear, I’ll refer to those utility patents with 20-year terms as “regular patents” throughout this article.

A utility model patent can be regarded as a regular patent “lite”. Currently, about 75 jurisdictions offer some form of utility model protection. Utility model applications are usually not substantively examined; for many, they are only checked to confirm they satisfy the formality requirements. Not all subject matter is eligible for utility model protection and for matter that is, the patent term length is typically 8-10 years.

Why pursue utility model protection?


The benefits of filing a utility model application include lower fees and faster grant. If your technology only has a shelf life of a few years, then it may be more cost-effective to file a utility model patent. Also, with its low patentability bar, protection can be obtained for inventions that would not satisfy the requirements for a regular patent. Many improvement patents all under this category.

So how do you file a utility model application?

The filing process for utility model patents are similar to that of regular patents. You can file them directly into the patent office. Alternatively, you can convert your PCT application into a utility model patent at national stage.

Interested in filing a utility model application? Please contact us directly for more information.


Related insights