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Like most areas of law, Intellectual Property can appear daunting and complex. There are a great many practice areas, subjects and procedures. The SH&P “A-Z” Intellectual Property glossary is a free and easy to use glossary of legal terms commonly used and associated with IP. We hope that it will help you better understand this topic. All of the entries include contact details for SH&P expert advisers. Alternatively, you can request a free, no obligation, IP Consultation and Review here if you require more information or have a particular issue you would like us to help you with.

The United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) is the official government organisation responsible for all intellectual property in the United Kingdom.

The organisation was created in 1852 and was formerly known as “The Patent Office” until 2nd April 2007.  The organisation’s original function was to grant patents. It is now responsible for intellectual property policy, the granting and enforcement of UK trade marks, patents and designs, as well as copyright matters.

The UK IPO has over 1000 specialist staff based in offices in Newport (South Wales) and London. Their website can be viewed here.




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    David is a Trade Mark Attorney and a partner of SH&P, which he joined…


  • Jonathan Sutton

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    Jon has been with SH&P since 1996. Prior to joining SH&P Jon worked as…
  • Peter Cornford

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    Peter has worked as a trade mark lawyer for over 30 years, qualifying as…
  • Robin Webster

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A utility model (sometimes referred to as a petty patent) is an intellectual property right that protects inventions.

Utility models are not available in the United Kingdom, but they do exist in quite a few European countries – including Germany (where they are called Gebrauchsmusters), Italy and Spain – and a number of other countries around the world, including China and Japan. They are similar to patents in that, in return for giving a clear and complete disclosure of their invention, the owner of a utility model has the right to stop others making or using the same invention in the country concerned.

While the provisions relating to utility models vary according to the country, the following general points are notable:-

  • Utility models usually have a shorter maximum term than patents – typically ranging from 6 to 15 years.Like patents, they are subject to renewal fees.
  • While most countries require that the invention is new, some also specify the need for an inventive step. Local novelty, rather than absolute (i.e. worldwide) novelty, is sufficient in some countries.
  • The examination of applications for utility models is usually less demanding than it is for patents. In some countries, applications are examined only to check that they comply with formality requirements and the utility model is then granted.
  • Certain types of inventions may be excluded from utility model protection – for example, processes cannot be protected in many countries.

A patent attorney is able to advise on the protection and enforcement of utility models.

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