Technical inventions can be protected by both patents and utility models. Please note that technical, chemical and biological processes can be patented but not protected as utility models.

Furthermore, the term of protection of utility models is different to that of patents. Utility model protection is initially available for three years. It may be extended to a maximum of ten years. A patent can provide protection for up to twenty years.

In case of utility models, substantive requirements for protection such as novelty and inventiveness are initially not examined. An examination is carried out only later within the framework of cancellation or infringement proceedings. This makes utility models easier, faster and cheaper than patents. However, there is a greater risk for utility models to be challenged and cancelled.