May 22, 2024 | Patrik Anthoni


IP Essentials: Patents and Utility Models

For companies and individuals alike, patents and utility models serve as invaluable assets, empowering them to transform groundbreaking ideas into tangible assets. In this segment of our series on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in Finland, we explore the significance of patents and utility models and strategies for leveraging their potential.


A patent is a right to utilize an innovation commercially exclusively in the market. In order to receive a patent for an invention in Finland, 1) the invention must be new, 2) it must involve an inventive element and 3) it needs to be industrially applicable. The Finnish Patent Act (fin. ‘Patenttilaki’, 550/1967) contains detailed prerequisites on e.g. what constitutes an invention, which inventions can be granted a patent and what is the scope of patent protection. The process of obtaining a patent is more costly and takes a relatively longer time than a utility model, but the novelty and the inventive element of the invention are examined beforehand, thus better assuring protection for the invention.

The requirement of novelty requires that the invention is new, meaning that a similar invention does not exist in the market. This means that the inventor must keep their invention a secret until they have applied for a patent – protection is generally granted from the application date. The term “patent pending” reflects the protection of the invention during the application process.

The invention must also be inventive, meaning that it must differ significantly from existing inventions. An invention can be new, but nonetheless too similar to an existing invention, whereby that new invention does not fulfil the requirement of having an inventive element. The degree of similarity between a new and an existing invention is examined by the Patent and Registration Office (PRH), which takes into account the technical problem solved by the invention(s), the solution to the proposed problem and the solution the invention produces.

Finally, the invention must be industrially applicable. Industrial applicability means that the invention must be created and be able to be used to solve the proposed problem. The invention must also be reproducible in accordance with the invention’s blueprint.

When these three requirements are fulfilled, an invention can in theory be patented. However, there are certain caveats about inventions can be patented. For example, scientific theories, business plans, computer software or artistic creations cannot be patented.


Utility models allow for the exclusive commercial utilisation of an invention in the market. Utility models are in force for a maximum of 10 years, whereas patents can generally be in force for a maximum of 20 years. Utility models are called “mini-patents” (fin. ‘pikkupatentti’) due to lighter protection and requirements for obtaining them. The Finnish Act on Utility Models (fin. ‘Laki hyödyllisyysmallioikeudesta, 800/1991) contains provisions regarding e.g. the requirements for granting a utility model.

The requirements for a utility model are similar to those of patents, with some dissimilarities. The invention must be new, it must have an inventive element and it must be industrially applicable. Unlike with patents, PRH does not examine the novelty or the inventive element of the invention during the application process, leaving more responsibility to the inventor to carefully examine these before submitting an application.

For a utility model to be granted, the invention must clearly differ from previous inventions, whereas with patents the difference must be significant. In other words, the grant of a utility model requires that the invention is a clear improvement on an existing invention or technology, but not significant enough to warrant an independent patent.


As discussed before, patents and utility models offer distinct advantages for companies seeking to protect and commercialize their inventions. First off, patents and utility models grant inventors exclusive rights to their inventions, preventing others from making, using, or selling protected technology without authorization. This exclusivity provides companies with a competitive edge in the marketplace, enabling them to capitalize on their innovations and secure market share.

Proprietors of patents and utility models can utilize their protected inventions by either manufacturing and selling them by themselves or through licensing. Where an invention is “remarkable enough”, the associated patent or utility model can be of interest to companies in the same field of business, which may offer to purchase the exclusive commercial rights to the invention at hand. A successful invention can facilitate strategic partnerships, licensing agreements, and investment opportunities, driving growth or additional revenue streams.

Since patents and utility models grant their proprietor an exclusive right to use an invention commercially, that right is accompanied with the right to deny others the use of that invention. In case of unauthorized use or infringement, companies can take legal action against infringers, seeking damages, injunctions, and other remedies to protect their rights. As with other forms of IPR, responsibility of managing patents and utility models is with the proprietor, and the proprietors of patents or utility models must proactively monitor and manage their IP portfolio to ensure that their inventions are not being used without authorization.


Patents and utility models are central forms of protection when discussing IPRs as a whole. By embracing the power of patent and utility model protection and adopting proactive strategies for IP management, companies can effectively boost their market growth and revenue while building a lasting market presence through their invention.


Nordic LawPioneer in Web3 and Fintech law