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What is the difference between an invention and a utility model?

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Practice shows that some people confuse the terms invention and utility model - not for nothing that the latter is sometimes referred to as a minor invention. First, let's find out what the two terms mean separately:


The invention is a technical solution in any field relating to a product (such as a device, substance, microorganism, plant or animal cell culture) or method (a process for dealing with a material object by using material means), including the use of the product or method for a certain purpose.

An invention is granted legal protection if it is new, involves an inventive step, and is industrially applicable.

A utility model

- is a technical solution relating to a device. A utility model is granted legal protection if it is new and industrially applicable.

What do we protect? An invention always protects the process and the product (development); a utility model only provides legal protection for a device.

For how long? For an invention - 20 years; for a utility model - 10 years. Provided that maintenance fee is paid annually.

What shall we patent? In contrast to a utility model, an invention must not only be new and practicable, but it must also involve an inventive step, i.e. it must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art; the requirements for patentability are also different for inventions and utility models.

How are the claims and the description drafted? Patent authority is more demanding on the formulation of the technical result of the utility model than on the same parameters of the invention.

How long does one have to wait? On average, it takes 12 months for an invention and 2 months for a utility model. The time limit for granting a patent is two weeks from the date of state registration.

How much will it cost? The fees for patenting inventions are significantly higher than for utility model applications.

For the strongest protection for the development, an umbrella protection strategy is usually employed which, like an ordinary umbrella, seeks to capture as much subject matter as possible under its shadow.

In our case, this strategy is expressed by having developers protect the main technology with an invention patent and then obtaining additional utility model patents, for example, for secondary but nevertheless important functions.

There are even more things that one should know. Therefore, suggest you get help from professionals. You can read the following articles on how professionals can help you:

It is also possible to protect the same development with patents for invention and utility model at the same time:

Let's file 2 identical applications - for invention and utility model respectively, but send the latter one a day earlier. As the examination of the utility model application will be finished quicker it will not oppose an invention application that will be published later than a year later. You will be granted a utility model patent first and an invention patent sometime later.

Another way is to draw up patent claims and utility model claims with slight differences from each other and file them at the same time. As a result, they are recognized as different and as they have the same priority of filing, they are not opposed but you are granted two patents at once.