Protection of Utility ModelsThe utility model law protects inventions which are new, are based on an inventive step and which can be used commercially. Though the amendment of the utility model law had already brought in 1986 the partial removal of the ”requirement of space shape” for circuits, only with the amended version of § 1, 1 of the Utility Model Law (GebrMG) together with the Act for the Protection of Intellectual Property and for the Prevention of Counterfeit Merchandise (PrPG) of 1990 the protection of utility models had been extended to almost all technical in-novations: the “requirement of space shape” was abolished.
Like the patent the protection of utility models requires an application of the object at the German Patent and Trademark Office. For the registration in the register the German Patent and Trademark Office examines just if the formal requirements are fulfilled and if the object is accessible to the trademark protection. However, it doesn’t examine novelty, the existence of an inventive step and the susceptibility of industrial application. For that reason the utility model is easier achievable than a patent.
Once the utility model is registered only the holder of the right may use the protected object. If the legal prohibition is violated the owner of the utility model can sue the infringer for discontinuance and in the case of culpable action sue him for damages. Due to the low requirements as a whole and the scope of protection which is substantially the same compared to the patent law the utility model law is of great importance in practice even though the term of protection is relatively short (10 years at most).