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Invention patent and utility model protection


Publication date
30 June 2022
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency
Publication type
  • Case study


Different types of intellectual property rights (IPR) give different scope of protection. For example, trade marks protect the distinctiveness of a sign that allows consumers to distinguish one product from any other, while copyright only protects the expression of ideas. These rights can and should be used together in a comprehensive IP protection strategy. However, in some specific cases, it might be possible to rely on another type of IPR if the preferred type cannot be used. This has been the case for a Belgian producer of food processing machinery. The Belgian SME manufactures machines that can be used to cut fruit at an industrial level. Each machine has a general structure that is common for all fruit, but different types of blades are used to cut different types of fruit according to their size and requested type of cut. The R&D department is constantly improving the blades to increase their efficiency and to create new blades for processing a variety of fruits. When it comes to IP protection, the SME has obtained invention patents which cover the whole machine. In addition, each type of blade is separately protected by invention patents. The invention patents were granted in Belgium and extended via the PCT international filing route to cover the entire European Union and a few third countries. When the SME entered the China market, 15 food cutting machines were sold. The Chinese company that bought the machines also bought blades for different types of fruit and occasionally continued to buy the newly-developed blades as its business grew.


30 JUNE 2022
Case study - Invention patent and utility model protection