Elgar Intellectual Property Law and Practice series
Edited by Stefan Luginbuehl and Peter Ganea
Chapter 19: UTILITY MODELS
The Chinese Patent Act protects the following three types of patents: invention patent, which is equivalent to ‘patents’ according to European and US terminology; design patent, which is equivalent, for example, to the European Community Design or the US design patent; andutility models. Utility models are in fact a common form of patent protection throughout the world and not unique to China. Utility models are available in many countries in Europe (for example, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands), Latin America (for example, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico), South East Asia (for example Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam), as well as in Japan, South Korea and Australia. The two most important developed countries which do not provide such protection are the UK and the US. The primary purpose of utility models is to enable quick patent protection for inventions with a short commercial life. The short commercial life also justifies a shorter protection term as compared to the protection term for invention patents. This is because invention patents in China are usually granted after three to six years from the date of filing with SIPO, depending on when the request for examination is made. In contrast, utility models are normally granted after 10 to 16 months from filing. In exchange for quick grant, utility models only have a maximum protection term of 10 years instead of 20 years for invention patents.
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