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The role of utility models in patent filing strategies: evidence from European countries

Jussi Heikkilä () and Michael Verba

Scientometrics, 2018, vol. 116, issue 2, 689-719

Abstract: Abstract We examine the role of utility models (UM) in patent filing strategies. With an extensive patent family data from European countries, we explore the structures and characteristics of patent families, which include UMs. A simple typology of patent families with UM members is introduced. We document that the geographical scope of most patent families with UM members is purely national, which is in line with the conventional view that the UM mechanism covers technologically and economically marginal inventions. However, the image of a UM as a signal of a minor invention is an oversimplification. Applicants exhibit a mixture of uses for the UM and there exists a subset of UM filings linked to inventions the inventive step of which meets or exceeds the threshold required for patent protection. Some UMs are members of international patent families, indicating that applicants may have some strategic motives to use UMs in international filing. The findings highlight that both types of IPR documents (UMs and patents) should be taken into account when working with data on patent families, analyzing patent filing strategies, and constructing patent-based indicators such as patenting propensities.

Keywords: Patent; Utility model; Patent family; Priority filing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O31 O34 O38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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