Study on the economic impact of the utility model legislation in selected Member States
Final report - Study
This study analyses the economic impact of Utility Model (UM) legislation in selected EU Member States. It analyses nine European countries with a UM system in place, as well as four countries without a UM system and five countries outside the EU with a UM system. The study authors found that little evidence is available in the Member States with respect to use and impact of UM systems. UMs systems differed greatly, as up to six main parameters of the patent system (on top of a number of minor parameters) could be tweaked to create a separate UM system. It was found that UM systems in Europe... have lost much of their supposed ability to protect ‘minor inventions by small inventors’. Rather, the UM has turned into an auxiliary tool of savvy IP professionals, who use it in specific national contexts to overcome shortcomings of the patent system. Overall awareness of UMs outside this group of IP professionals was low. The main commonly agreed upon reason to take out UMs is speed, which makes the UM particularly attractive for industries with short product life cycles and for enforcing pending patents via branched off utility models (in countries where such an option is available). The main barriers and risks associated with UMs are lack of legal certainty, potential abuse of the system and unclear (net) costs. While it was not possible to conclusively gauge the impact of UMs on innovation, considerable insights were found on impact mechanisms, the success factors and the risks of introducing a UM system at European level – a topic on which the interview partners in Europe were considerably divided.