A patent protects technical inventions, such as machines, products, apparatus, chemical components, methods of operations or manufacturing methods. A patent may last at most 20 years. A patent is examined with regard to patentibility by the Patent Office before grant. An important requirement to receive a German patent is that the invention may not be disclosed publicly before the patent application has been filed at the patent office. This applies regardless whether the prior publication was performed orally, written or by use.
A utility model protects technical inventions in a manner similar to that of a patent. The maximal duration is ten years. A utility model is published without substantial official examination.