A utility model right refers to an exclusive right registered on application to an inventor for the commercial use of the inventor’s invention. The exclusive right is granted for a fixed term and region, in the same way as the exclusive right granted by a patent. In Finland, a utility model is valid for a maximum of 10 years in total (by paying renewal fees after 4 years and 8 years from the date of application).
A utility model application is drawn up mainly in the same way as a patent application, but it cannot, however, be used to protect method inventions. The requirement of inventiveness is lower than that required of inventions to be protected by a patent.
An invention to be registered as a utility model should be new and differ essentially from what is previously known. The patent office does not examine the invention for novelty at the application stage. The application is only examined formally and registered once possible deficiencies have been amended. The applicant does, however, have the opportunity to request a novelty examination at the application stage against separate payment and, by request, the applicant can also be given a separate statement on the bars of novelty found, also against separate payment. After registration, anyone can request a novelty examination against payment. A registered utility model is published in the Utility Model Gazette. As regards a registered utility model, a claim can be made for declaring it partially or completely null and void. Anyone can make this type of claim at any time during the validity of the registration and even after it has expired. The claimant must justify the claim and pay the required fee.
The holder of a utility model right is informed of a claim for nullification and at the same time given a three-month period for responding to it. If the holder of the utility model right does not object to the claim, the registration is declared completely null and void. If the claim is objected, the patent office will examine the validity of the claim. This examination is carried out only on the basis of the documents presented in the claim. The patent office will not search for bars of novelty on its own initiative.
A pending patent application can be changed into a utility model application within 10 years from the application date, or the priority date if priority has been claimed. When a patent application is changed into a utility model application, the patent application remains pending unless it is separately cancelled.