Utility Model in Intellectual Property

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Case Study :

“It has been suggested that utility models are foreign in origin, and, as such, do not properly belong within the ambit of British intellectual property law.”

The United Kingdom’s Forgotten Utility Model: The Utility Designs Act 1843,

Brad Sherman & Lionel Bently, I.P.Q. 1997, 3, 265-278

Critically analyse the above statement, with reference to UK law and the proposed EU Utility Model Directive.

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1. Introduction

Commercial and technological changes have reached a breathtaking pace. Not only are products changing but markets, customers, competitors and government regulations are constantly in a state of flux. In adapting to this new environment, companies have recognised that their proprietary intellectual property rights are critical assets which may insure a competitive advantage or generate substantial licensing income.

Intellectual property rights laws (IPR) exist in most countries, with concepts based on the idea that innovation is the product of genius individuals. Such people, by sharing the fruits of their genius with the society, are deemed to be deserving of economic rights granted by the state on behalf of the society. Various IPR types exist, all of which may have a role in protecting valuable knowledge and in helping commercialisation of products.

Generally speaking, there are four main types of IP, namely:-

a) Copyright : protects material such a literature, art, music, sound recordings, films and broadcasts

b) Designs : protecting the visual appearances or eye appeal of products

c) Patents : protect the technical and functional aspects of products and processes

d) Trade Marks: protect signs that can distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another.

It should be noted that IP also extends and includes know how, trade secrets, plant varieties, geographical indications and performers right, whereas more than one type of IP may apply to the same creation.

For the...