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Recently, a lawyer told me that if my company makes a product (in my case an electronic board) like another patented product on the market, but my product adds functionality to the original product, then my product would automatically be a “utility model” and not violate any patents.

But I read online that a utility model is itself a patent. And now I'm a little confused.

What is the real difference between a patent and an utility model?

Can my utility model can be replaced by another utility model?

My jurisdiction is Italy but the patented product may be protected by patents in other countries including US.

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You might want to edit the question to include the jurisdiction your are interested in. The difference will likely depend on the jurisdiction (I don't know, no utility models in US practice). –  EntropyWins Jan 8 '13 at 21:42
    
Thanks, I'll update my question –  RTOSkit Jan 8 '13 at 23:35
    
Thanks community, for add a tag. –  RTOSkit Jan 8 '13 at 23:49

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Some countries allow for "utility model" patents. These are also known as "petty patents." In most cases the utility model patents are easier to obtain but also have less enforcement potential. The US does not allow for utility model patents. Because patent rights are territorial on a country-by-country basis, your Italian or German utility model patent will not provide any exclusive rights in the US.

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Thanks for your reply and collaboration. –  RTOSkit Jan 10 '13 at 18:25

To cover the most general version of your question, adding functionality is very rarely a way to avoid being accused of practicing someone else's patent. Going beyond what everyone else has done is important to you having a patentable invention. But the patentability of your invention is not relevant to the question of your possible infringing of someone else's patent. Many people think getting your own patent immunizes you from other's patents. Not the case. Your patent does not give you the right to make your own product - it gives you the right to try to stop others.

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Thanks for your reply,George. Also, I will inform my lawyer, about your observations. –  RTOSkit Jan 15 '13 at 2:18

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