Can I have a patent and a utility model for the same invention?

This possibility exists in some countries. For example, in Germany it is possible to obtain and keep both a patent and a utility model for the same invention. If a utility model is branched off from a patent application, the patent application can continue to be pursued to the grant stage as well. However, in other countries, such as Japan and China, only a single right for the same invention is allowed to remain in force.

What are the advantages of the utility model?

One of the main advantages is that filing a utility model is much cheaper than obtaining and maintaining a patent. The lower costs associated with utility models mean that they could be particularly useful for SMEs. Another advantage is that the utility model is normally granted faster than a patent. The utility model will be easily granted since there is usually no substantive examination (e.g. on novelty.) The inventive step requirements are lower than for patents.

What can be protected by a utility model?

Utility models can be registered in some countries to protect technical innovations which might not qualify for a patent. The requirements of protection vary from country to country. However, most countries will only grant utility models for products, not for methods or processes. Because the novelty and inventive step requirements are less stringent than those required for patents, utility models can be useful for incremental inventions where only a small change has been made and which might not meet the inventive step requirements for a patent.