German Utility Model

Field of Application
Technical objects and methods, e.g., machines, parts of machines, devices, and circuits.

Exclusions
Not patentable are, e.g., designs, and methods/processes (-> patent).

Requirements
The invention has to fulfill three essential requirements: it has to be commercially applicable, globally new, and has to be based on an "inventive step", i.e., it must not obviously emerge from the state of the art from the view of a person skilled in the art.

Novelty Grace Period
In contrast to a patent which has to be globally new at the filing date, for utility models there is a novelty protection ("grace") period of 6 months for the applicant's own publications.

Filing and Examination
The application is similar to a patent application. However, the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) does only perform an examination as to formal requirements before registering the utility model. The protection of the utility model starts with its registration. Commonly, the formal examination takes some weeks only; therefore the procedure to register a utility model is faster than the examination procedure of a patent application.

Lifetime
The utility model is valid for three years. After the first three years it can be extended by another three years and subsequently two more times by two years each. Hence, the total lifetime of a utility model sums up to a total of ten years, from the date of filing.