Utility model applications are subject to the legal requirement of unity. An application must therefore be made for each invention. Unity is not however a requirement for protection but for registration. Non-unity does not therefore constitute a reason for cancellation, but is merely a hindrance to registration.
A utility model application must contain the applicant’s name, a request for registration with the designation and a description of the subject matter. Claims may be submitted up to the time of registration. Utility model applications can also be filed in a language other than German. In such cases, a German translation must be submitted within three months of filing.
Receipt of the utility model application by the German Patent Office has the same legal effect as receipt of a patent application, i.e. the date of receipt and the documents submitted determine inter alia the filing date, duration of protection, priority status and the subject matter of the application. Changes to the application documents are permissible until the decision to register has been issued, provided they do not extend the subject matter of the application. Once registration has taken place, no further changes are permissible.
Nevertheless the scope of the utility model can be reduced after registration if the utility model holder files a new set of limited claims by means of a contractually binding public declaration. A request for cancellation, however, can only be made in respect of the registered claims.
A prior art search in respect of the utility model application or a registered utility model may be requested at any time by the applicant or any third party. A pending search request does not affect the registration of the utility model.
Utility model protection starts on the filing date and ends ten years after the month of filing.
The German Patent and Trade Mark Office’s current fee is EUR 40 and includes the maintenance fee for the first three years. The maintenance fees for subsequent periods are currently EUR 210 for years 4 to 6, EUR 350 for years 7 to 8, and EUR 530 for years 9 to 10.