Utility model – General information

Updated last 26.03.2021

What is a utility model?

Utility models are often referred to as “minor inventions“. Although these are not very common as a form of industrial property, utility models, similarly to patents, protect inventions. The protection of the utility model is suitable for less complex inventions or inventions with a shorter life-cycle on the market, which do not fully meet the patentability criteria, necessary for the issuance of a patent.

What cannot be registered as a utility model?

The following cannot be registered as utility models:

  • Discoveries;
  • Scientific theories and mathematical methods;
  • Artistic work results;
  • Schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business;
  • Computer software
  • Way of presenting of information;
  • The human body during the various stages of its formation and development, as well as the simple discovery of one of its elements, including the genetic sequence or partial sequence.
  • Biotechnologiacl inventions under the meaning of art. 7a of the Patents and Utility Models Registration Act;
  • Methods, chemical fusions or their application

The registration of utility models is prohibited, if these are related to:

  • Cloning human beings;
  • Methods of altering the genetic identity of human embryo;
  • Use of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes;
  • Methods of modifying the genetic identity of animals, where this may cause them suffering without any substantial use from a medical point of view for humans or animals, as well as of animals obtained by such methods;
  • Methods for treatment of the human or animal body by therapy or surgery, as well as diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body, as this does not apply to products, in particular substances or compositions, for use in any of these methods;
  • Plant varieties;
  • Animal breeds;
  • Biological processes for obtaining plants and animals.

What rights does the owner of the utility model obtain?

The rights, obtained with the utility model, are similar to the rights, you are entitled to, after patenting an invention. The utility model owner may decide who and under what conditions may or may not use the invention for commercial purposes and during the period of protection.

Important to know
Important to know

You are entitled to simultaneously file a patent application and a utility model application for the same invention – parallel applications (art. 75 b of the Patents and Utility Models Registration Act). Until the expiration of the term for payment of the fees for patent issuance and publication or of the 3 months term for appealing the decision of the Patent Office you are entitled to transform your patent application into an application for a utility model registration (subject to the provisions of article 47a of the Patents and Utility Models Registration Act). In such case the transformed application retains the filing date and the priority date of the initially filed patent application, which is considered withdrawn.

For the same invention, for which a patent application is filed, the applicant may also file a parallel application for utility model registration in compliance with the requirements for legal protection, referring to the filing date and the patent application’s claimed priority. This right could be exercised within two months from the date of receipt of the decision on the patent application, but not later than 10 years from the date of the patent application filing.

What is the difference between an invention patent and a utility model?

The requirements for having a utility model are less stringent, than those, applicable to the acquisition of a invention patent. Utility models, as well as inventions, must meet the „novelty“ criterion (art. 73 a, PUMRA): in both cases there must be a new feature, which is not available in the current state of the art. In the case of the utility models “the invention step“ may be much less obvious or even completely absent (art. 73 c, PUMRA). In practice, utility models are suitable for minor innovations, which may not meet all the patentability criteria. Тhe procedure for obtaining protection with utility model is easier than that for obtaining an invention patent.

What is the validity period of the utility model?

The utility model is issued for a period of 4 years as of the application date and may be renewed twice, as each renewal may be valid for not more than 3 years. The total protection period cannot exceed 10 years, starting from the date of filing the application. Compared to the patent, which is valid for approximately 20 years, the duration of the legal protection with a utility model is twice as short.

National, European or international utility model?

Utility models do not provide protection on European or international level. Bulgaria is one of the nineteen countries in the European Union where you can apply for a utility model. The other fourteen Member States are: Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Danmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Spain, Croatia, Hungary.

Important to know
Important to know

Utility models have territorial application, which means that the exclusive rights are granted and implemented only within the geographic borders of the country, where these are registered.

For more information
For more information

For more information on the utility model and the related regulatory framework please refer to the website of the: