Since 2010, the European Patent Office has been “raising the bar” with the aim of allowing the EPO to deliver “high-quality patents based on an efficient search and examination process”. Although the average grant rate of European patents for 2012 remained stable at about 50% (that is for every two European patent applications filed, one of those applications is not granted), what can you do if your invention is unlikely to meet the EPO’s requirements for inventive step?
Utility models may be one way in which you might be able to obtain protection for your invention. Utility models provide similar protection to that provided by patents, but typically have a much shorter lifetime than a patent such as 10 years or less. In exchange for the shorter term of protection, there are usually less stringent requirements to register a utility model and although your invention will need to be new, the requirements for inventive step are usually lower than that required for a patent.
Unfortunately, utility models vary greatly from country to country in terms of what is protectable, lifetime, and registration requirements. Furthermore, only a selected number of countries provide utility models and notable countries where utility models are not available are UK and US.
At Reddie & Grose LLP, we can guide you through the potential pitfalls and benefits of utility models, and whether they might be a suitable alternative for the protection of your invention. Contact your usual Reddie & Grose attorney for more information.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking before any action in reliance on it.