In Italy and in some other countries there is a “lighter” right than the patent for invention, which can give exclusive rights in commercial use as well, namely the utility model. What are the differences between patent for invention and utility model?

The Patent for Invention

It is a form of protection that is granted to both companies and individuals for solutions which have a high degree of innovation and represent a new and original solution to a technical problem. The basic requirements are novelty, industrial applicability and inventive step.

The Industrial Utility Model

The industrial utility model is an invention that provides machines or parts thereof, tools, instruments, or objects of use in general, with particular effectiveness or convenience of application or use.

Through the Utility Model, you protect a solution that is new and involves an inventive step that consists in modifying the configuration, structure or constitution of an object in order to offer a perceptible advantage in its use or manufacture.

What are the main differences between patent for invention and utility model?

In general, utility models are useful for companies that want to register “small” discoveries and improvements to existing devices, innovations for items that require a technical solution having minor inventiveness, indeed:

  • Patents for Invention must have the requirement of international novelty, which is determined through a report by the European Patent Office on the state of the art.
  • Utility Models must involve novelty. Unlike patents for invention, utility models are not subject to a novelty search performed by the EPO. The latter, therefore, does not issue any search report or any opinion on patentability.
  • Protection of Patents for Invention extends up to 20 years, with annual renewals (starting from the 5th year).
  • Utility Model protection extends up to 10 years, with a 5-year renewal (after 5 years).
  • Utility Models, unlike patents for invention, cannot relate to methods, procedures or new uses, since they consist of an invention with physical characteristics
  • While the patent for invention is a proprietary right in existence in virtually all states, the Utility Model is a proprietary right in use in the following states: Albania, Angola, Argentina, ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization), Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mexico, OAPI (Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle, African Intellectual Property Organization), Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Moldova, Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Uzbekistan.