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Last Update: 04 Nov 2016
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Utility Innovation

Utility Innovation is another type of intellectual property that is very similar to patent. It is an exclusive rights conferred to an innovator that manages to come up with an incremental improvement to an existing product or process. With the exclusive right, the innovator can work the incremental invention by preventing others from exploiting the same without prior consent.  

In Malaysia, utility innovation differs from patent in the sense that the scope of protection is narrower and the initial duration of protection is shorter. However, the requirements to obtain a certificate of utility innovation are less stringent than patent. It is also known as “utility model”, “minor patent”, “petty patent”, and “innovation patent” in some other countries.   

What is a utility innovation?  

Utility innovation is an exclusive right granted to an innovator for a “minor” invention or innovation, which can be a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something or solves a specific technical problem in any field of technology.  

What are the criteria for getting a utility innovation granted?  

The requirements to obtain a certificate of utility innovation are less stringent than the requirements needed for patent. However, there are still a couple of criteria that must be met before a utility innovation can be granted, which are as follows:- Novel - The invention must be new and not used or disclosed before anywhere in the world.  Industrially applicable - The invention can be made or used in the relevant industry. The criterion of inventiveness is not necessary for the registration of utility innovation.  

What subject matters cannot be covered by a utility innovation?  

The following subject matters cannot be covered by a utility innovation:-  

(a)  Discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods.  (b)  Plant or animal varieties or essentially biological processes for the production of  plants or animals (except for man-made living microorganisms, microbiological  processes and the products thereof).  (c)  Schemes, rules or methods for doing business, performing purely mental acts or  playing games. (d) Methods for the treatment of human or animal body by surgery or therapy, and  diagnostic methods practiced on the human or animal body (except for the products  used in any such methods).  

What is the protection duration of a utility innovation?  

The protection duration of a utility innovation is initially 10 years from the date of filing of utility innovation application and extendable for another two successive periods of 5 years each.  

What are the rights of an owner of a certificate of utility innovation? 

 Similarly to patent, an owner of a certificate of utility innovation will have the exclusive rights to exploit the covered subject matter, chiefly to make, import, offer for sale, sell, or use the registered innovation. Furthermore, the owner also has the rights to assign the utility innovation and to conclude license contracts with any other party.  

How to protect your innovation in other countries?  

Utility innovation protection is territorial. In other words, you will have to file a new utility innovation application, claiming priority from your initial utility innovation application, in each country that you wish to extend the protection to. Please note that utility innovation protection is only available in some countries such as Australia, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam, to name some. This foreign utility innovation application must be filed within twelve months from the initial date of filing.