Like Patent Law, utility model is a Intellectual Property Right to protect inventions. Utility model right is only available in some countries. Although a utility model is similar to a patent, it is generally cheaper to obtain and maintain, has a shorter term, shorter grant lag, and less stringent requirements. In many countries, it is only available for inventions in certain fields of technology or only for products. Utility models can be described as second-class patents.
Utility model laws are very similar to those granted by patent laws, but are more suited to what may be considered as incremental inventions. Terms such as "petty patent", "innovation patent", "minor patent", and "small patent" also fall within the definition of "utility model". Different terms used to define utility model are "petty patent", "innovation patent", "utility innovation", "minor patent", and "small patent".
The German and Austrian utility model is called the "Gebrauchsmuster", which influenced some other countries such as in Japan. Meanwhile, the utility model in Indonesia and Finland is called as "Petty Patent". A utility model is a statutory monopoly granted for a limited time in exchange for an inventor providing sufficient teaching of his or her invention to permit a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art to perform the invention.
The Utility Law in Australia provides for the grant of a utility model known as an innovation patent. For an innovation patent to be valid the invention claimed must be novel and involve an innovative step. There will be no novelty if it has already been disclosed to the public through prior publication or prior use anywhere in the world.
In Japan, a utility model is considered to be new if it has not been made available to the public by means of a written description or by use before the date relevant for the priority of the application. Japanese utility models are not subject to substantive examination, but the owner must request one or more "reports on technical opinion" before instituting infringement proceedings. - "Shimpei Yamamoto, "Utility Models in Japan", The Japan Patent Office, September 3, 2012."
In Italy, a utility model is considered to be new if it does not form part of the state of the art. The state of the art comprises any knowledge made available to the public by means of a written or oral disclosure, anywhere in the World, before the filing date of the application or the priority date. The utility model must also involve an inventive step. The utility models must be more effective and easier to use than the ones according to prior art. Utility models cannot claim processes or methods.