Tag Archives: patent services

What is Utility Model protection and does India offer utility model protection?

Utility Model

Like patents, utility model is an exclusive right granted to an invention. This allows the grantee, the right to prevent others from commercially using the protected invention, without the grantee’s authorization, for a limited period of time. It is very similar to patents and are often referred to as, “petty patents” or “innovation patents”.
Though on the outset, both patents and utility model appear similar, there are many differences between the two, which are given below:
  •  As compared to patents, the requirements of obtaining a utility model differ. To obtain patent protection, patents are required to satisfy both novelty and non-obviousness requirements of patentability among other requirements. Utility models are supposed to satisfy the novelty requirement and the non-obviousness requirement for utility model is low or absent.
  • The term of protection for utility model is usually between 7 to 10 years, based on the jurisdiction.
  •  In most jurisdictions offering utility model protection, the applications are not examined prior to registration. This significantly reduces the duration required for registration.
  • As compared to patents, utility models are cheaper to obtain and maintain.
  • In some jurisdictions, utility model protection can only be obtained for certain fields of technology and only for products but not for processes.
Who should apply for utility model protection

 Primarily, utility model protection may be sought under the following circumstances:  

  • For inventions that do not reach the same level of inventiveness, which is required for patent protection.
  •  For inventions that require faster registration.
  • For innovations which are of incremental nature and do not meet all the requirements of patentability.
  • When the life cycle of the invention is short and/or if, the profits are not able to cover patenting costs.
  •  For minor improvements and adaptations of existing products.
  • The innovation is tangible and/or mechanical in nature.
Countries offering utility model protection 
Many may identify themselves under the above mentioned criteria and feel that, their innovation warrants a utility model protection and not patents. But all countries do not offer utility model protection.
Below is a list of countries, which offer utility model protection.

Source: Wikipedia link
Utility model protection in India 
Though utility model protection would be of great help to many, India, at present does not offer protection under utility model. At present, technological innovations can only be protected in India under patents.
I hope you found this article helpful. Please feel free check our patent services page to find out if we cater to your patent requirements.
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Team InvnTree   

Using Patents as a Marketing Tool – Good, Bad and the Ugly!

Marketing is one of the core functions in any business. This core function is carried out by working in conjunction with other functional units of companies. Working in conjunction with other functional units has known to help marketing teams in capitalizing on various aspects of the company to build brands and facilitate sales. 

One of the aspects that is being used increasingly over the past few years is patents. Using patents in marketing helps in sending across a wide range of messages. 

We recently conducted a survey to understand consumer perception when they recognize that a product is protected by a patent, be it through an advertisement or through information provided with the product itself. 

Largely, consumers seem to derive the below listed perceptions when they recognize that a product is protected by a patent:

  1. When a message about a product being protected by a patent is conveyed, the company as a whole is perceived to be innovative
  2. The patented product is perceived to be superior
  3. The patented product is perceived to be unique, as no one else can copy the patented product

I agree with the first perception to a large extent. The fact that a company has a patent granted, illustrates that the company has, at least to some extent, invested in innovation. Further, the company has long term (it generally take around 3.5 to 4 years to have a patent granted) vision in protecting their innovation. Hence, a perception that a company is innovative can be agreed upon. 

Further, as pointed out earlier, consumers perceive that a patented product is superior; this perception appears to be rather strong. However, while some patented products may be superior compared to other products in the market, it may not always be true. In over simplified terms, one can say that a patent was granted to a product or a process because the product has a feature or the process has a step that was not known to the public, prior to inventing the product or the process. However, it does not necessarily mean that the new feature or the process step is superior than the existing features or processes. Hence, a sweeping statement that a patented product is superior may not be accurate. 

While I have some objections with the second perception, I completely agree with the third perception. The patented product would be unique, at least to some extent, as compared to other products in the market. However, having an opinion that a patented product has some breakthrough innovation in it, may not be correct, considering that most innovations are incremental in nature and not breakthrough. The innovation in the product, be it incremental or breakthrough, the fact remains that the product is unique, as the product cannot be copied, since the product is protected by a patent. The common understanding among consumers that a patented product cannot be copied by other, and hence the product remains unique, appears to be greatly abused by marketers. 

Consumers to a large extent are not aware that patents are jurisdiction specific. In other words, a patent granted in US and not in India, cannot be enforced in India. Which means, if a patent for a product is not granted in India, and is granted only in the US, then anyone in India can copy the patented product without being liable for infringing on the rights of the US patent holder. 

I recently came across one such advertisement, which I think was trying to take advantage of incomplete understanding among the consumers about the patent system. The advertisement appeared in Times of India (TOI), Bangalore edition and was also found in TOI Mumbai edition. Image of the advertisement in the Mumbai edition is provided below. The advertisement is from a company called Advanced Hair Studio, and endorsed by Shane Warne!


Image source: Times of India

The advertisement stresses a lot on patents, with the word “patented” appearing 4 times in the advertisement, out of which, twice the company has used the word “patented”. Since, they have stressed substantially on patents, we wanted to find out the patent portfolio covering their technology. Surprisingly, while they have a few patents outside India, they don’t seem to have a single granted patent in India!

The advertisement gives an impression that their technology is protected by patents in India. However, considering that one of the most important aspects of patents, which is the jurisdiction in which it is granted, the advertisement should have mentioned that the technology is not protected by patents in India. 

Such usage of the word “patented”, commonly known as “false marking” may be interpreted as an effort to deceive the public. False marking is punishable in most countries, and in India (Indian Patent Act – Section 120), a fine extending up to INR 100000 (~$2200) may be imposed for such an offence. While, the extent of fine may not deter most companies from adopting false marking strategy for marketing, at least the knowledge that such practice is considered unethical, should stop them from adopting such strategies.

To sum it up, using patents as a marketing tool has a lot of positive effects on consumers. Hence, while marketers might use this strategy, ethical or not, to their advantage, consumers should absorb such messages with a pinch of salt. 

I hope this article helps in increasing knowledge about the patent system among consumers in general, and markets in specific.

Feel free to contact us ([email protected]) or ask us a question and have it answered within 24 hours. Check our  patent services page to find out if we cater to your patent requirements. 

We specialize in offering patent support services to patent practitioners across the world.


Team InvnTree

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How can I find out if my invention has already been invented?

This question may get asked when,

Researchers, before investing their time and money, would want to know, if it’s worthwhile to research on a product.  They would want to find out, what kind of similar products exists in the market and what technological improvements can be made to those products.

For any new technological improvements/inventions, inventors may want to patent their invention. Before starting the process of patenting, inventors would want to access their chances of patentability of the invention. In order to access the patentability of an invention, a search to identify prior art is required.

When a product is to be launched into the market, to avoid infringement, it is advisable to determine freedom to operate for the product in question. In order to determine Freedom to operate, a search of patent documents of the jurisdiction in question is to be conducted. To know more about freedom to operate, you can go through our article about Freedom to Operate

Different strategies can be adopted to determine the answers to the above scenarios:

A search for prior art can be conducted on the internet using search engines. This strategy may uncover some data, but will not always uncover  very relevant data. This is owing to the fact that patent documents and publications may not have been indexed in search engines. Search strategies involved in searching of relevant patent and non patent data requires considerable skill and technique. To know more about search strategies and techniques to be adopted, you can read our article How to conduct a patent search

Another strategy to be adopted is to Search for non patent literature. Searching of non patent literature can aid in finding out if a similar invention exists. Searching of non patent literature be conducted using databases such as  IEEE, Science Direct, IPmenu which hold enormous amount of data relating to non patent literature. Searching of such non patent literature data can uncover similar technology and would help in taking an informed decision regarding the invention. If a similar technology exists in non patent literature, it will affect the patentability of the invention, but it will have no bearing on the freedom to operate for a product, as non patent literature does not provide rights to the owner of that publication from stopping others from making and selling of those products.Note that if a publication about an invention exists in non patent literature, it does not mean that the owners would not have sought patent protection as well. It is advisable to cross check patent data as well before taking a decision about Freedom to operate.

 Another strategy to be adopted is to search patent literature. Searching of patent literature can be conducted using various free and paid patent databases. It is important to know a few facts about patents.

Patents are jurisdiction specific. It means that to obtain patent protection, one has to file for patents in all the jurisdictions one wishes to obtain protection. 

While determining freedom to operate for a specific country, only patent documents from that jurisdiction are to be considered. 

To determine the patentability of an invention, one needs to consider relevant patent documents from all jurisdictions.

I hope you find this article helpful. Check our  patent services page to find out if we can cater to your patent requirements. Also feel free to contact us or ask us a question and have it answered within 24 hours.
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