Utility Model

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Affordable solution for obtaining strong market position and competitive advantage even for less complex inventions or for inventions that have a short commercial life

What is a utility model?

A utility model is an exclusive right granted by the State for an invention that is new, involves an inventive step and is capable of industrial application. 


The protection of utility models serves the purpose of encouragement of inventiveness, innovations and stimulation of creativity, which might not, however, meet all the requirements for patentable inventions on the one hand, and providing for a type of protection with less stringent requirements and a relatively short duration in comparison with the classic patents, on the other hand. Hence, utility model protection is usually sought for technically less complex inventions or for inventions that have a short commercial life. However, utility model protection may extend to inventions from any technical field, i.e. machines, devices and systems, technical arrangements, substances, compositions, etc.


Due to the aforementioned characteristics, the majority of patent attorneys and inventors usually refer to the registered utility models as the “small patent, ”short-term Patents” or “petty patents”. The fast utility model registration and cost-effective protection have proved to be its most valuable advantages in practice, which have been more intensively used by inventors, applicants and startup companies recently.


Apart from the technological aspects of an invention, other types of protection in terms of the brand and/or aesthetic features of a product may be acquired through trademark registration and/or industrial design registration respectively.

What are the requirements for utility model registration?

The requirements for utility model registration are prescribed by the central industrial property offices of each country where utility model protections is available. Generally speaking, novelty and inventive step are required, but the inventive step requirements are somewhat less strict than for the classic patents in the majority of jurisdictions. In many instances these criteria are even not evaluated by the examiners due to the lack of substantive examination.


Some countries exempt methods (processes), chemical compounds or the use thereof and biotechnological inventions from registration through utility model.

What rights are granted by utility models?

A registered utility model grants its owner the right to exclude others from commercially using the invention for a limited period of time, usually between 7-10 years. This includes the right to prevent or stop others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing a product or process, based on the protected invention, without the owner’s permission. It is important to note that a registered utility model does not grant its owner the “freedom to use” or the right to exploit the technology covered by the utility model, but only the right to exclude others. In fact, utility models or patents owned by others may overlap, encompass or complement your own utility model. You may, therefore, need to obtain a license to use other people’s inventions in order to commercialize your own protected invention by utility model and vice versa. The use and exploitation of technology remain subject to national laws and regulations.


The legal scope of protection shall be determined by the patent claims in the registered utility model.

How long does a utility model protection last?

Utility models’ term of protection is limited in time and varies from country to country. It generally lasts from 7-10 years from the filing date of the application for utility model registration, provided the utility model renewal fees or maintenance fees are paid on time and no request for invalidation or revocation has been successful during this period. As soon as the utility model expires, the protection it confers ends and anyone may commercially exploit the invention without infringing the utility model’s exclusive rights.

Where do utility models provide exclusive rights?

Utility models are territorial rights, which means that an invention is only protected within the geographical boundaries of the countries where utility model registration has been successfully proceeded. In other words, if you have not been granted an exclusive right with effect in a given country, your invention will not be protected in that country, enabling anybody else to make, use, import or sell your invention in that country.

What are the main differences between utility models and classic patents?

Despite the fact that the patentability criteria of utility models are the same as for the classic patents for inventions, there are significant differences in the procedure for the registration of a utility model, as well as its validity term.


Utility model’s protection differ from inventions for which classic patents for invention are available mainly in three aspects, as follows:


First, the technological progress required is smaller than the technological progress (the “inventive steprequirement) required in the case of an invention for a classic patent.


Second, the maximum term of protection for a utility model is generally much shorter compared to the classic patents and varies from country to country (usually between 7-10 years as from the utility model’s filing date).


Third, the fees for obtaining and maintaining are much lower, coupled with the faster prosecution process because substantive examination of the patentability criteria are not examined in the majority of jurisdictions. It usually takes several months to obtain the utility model registration and its registration certificate respectively.

How do you apply for utility model registration?

There is only one way of protecting inventions through utility models, namely the national route. There is no International, nor European route. Hence, protection through utility model can only be acquired by filing as many as necessary applications for national utility model registrations. See Utility model registration in Bulgaria or Utility model registration abroad for more information.


However, utility model protection can also be prosecuted from already filed PCT application and/or applications for Bulgarian Patent and European patent under specific conditions.


Legal protection for utility model shall be granted through utility model registration with the Bulgarian Patent Office. The utility model protects the aspects of technological developments that are new, involve an inventive step and susceptible of industrial application.

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Our significant experience in the patent and utility model domain helps our clients to determine the most efficient legal form of protection for their inventions – by filing a Bulgarian patent application, European patent application or a Bulgarian utility model registration.

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  • Strong market position and competitive advantage even for less complex inventions or for inventions that have a short commercial life
  • Fast and cost-effective protection for your invention
  • A powerful tool to take action against imitators and free riders
  • Easier to enforce
  • Higher profit or returns on investment.
  • Additional income from licensing or assigning the patent.
  • Access to other technologies through cross-licensing.
  • Access to new markets
  • Diminished risks of infringement.
  • Enhanced ability to obtain grants and/or raise funds at a reasonable rate of interest.
  • Positive image for your enterprise.

International Industrial Design Registration Procedure - KTpatent.com


Bulgarian and EQE qualified European Patent Attorney with technical and scientific background

We have been in the patent and utility models domain for over 35 years and gained considerable experience over time

Our clients say that we are objective, accurate, punctual, exhaustive and reliable

We put great importance on the relationship between costs
and benefits for our clients.

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