How long do patent rights last, depends on various types of patents as well as the filing dates involved in patenting. Patents must be renewed on a regular basis. If you forget to renew your patents, competitors can take your ideas and copy them for their own profit.

Patents rights are essential to prevent other companies taking your ideas and your brand, as well as making a profit from the hard work that you have put in. It is important to understand the laws and rules surrounding your patent, particularly the term.

Table of Content

How Long Do Patent Rights Last?

Can You Extend a Patent?

Patent Expiration

Can patents be renewed?

What happens after the patent expires?

How Long Do Patent Rights Last?

Patent rights are only valid within a time limit, and the right to take legal action on anyone infringing on the patent should be within this period.

How long does a patent rights last depends on the filing date of patent application and the type of patent they received. According to USPTO, there are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant patents.

Patent protection for utility patents is the most popular type of patent. If a utility patent application was filed prior to June 8, 1995, according to WIPO the protection will last for 20 years.

Patent protection for design patents lasts 14 years from the issue date. While patent protection for plant patents lasts 17 years from the filing date.

Patent protection ensure you gain maximum profit from your invention.

Can You Extend a Patent lifetime?

One can not extend the statutory term of a patent. The government though grants exceptions for rare cases, such as patents made for pharmaceuticals. This is because it takes long to test drugs before granting patents.

Utility patents are valid for 20 years, as we mentioned previously. Therefore, applicants expect the patent office to complete the approval of their patent application as soon as possible. The process can take time since the patent office has over 500,000 pending patent applications.

Patent office approval takes, on average, 24 months. Many applicants believe that the patent offices should pay them compensation for the time it took to approve their patent application but this is not the way that the patent office operates.

The patent office won’t extend the term of a patent if there is no substantial and unjustified delay, particularly if the patent office took less than three years for approval.

The patent office may extend the patent term for applications that have been pending for longer than three years in rare cases. These extensions are issued when more than one inventor is trying to obtain a patent for the same invention.

The patent office does not grant these extensions. If you wish to extend your patent term, you will need to request a Patent Term Adjustment (PTA). However, the patent office is not known for its willingness or ability to grant them.

The following are situations in which the patent office might grant you a patent adjustment (PTA):

  • Within 14 months of your filing, the USPTO does not examine your new application.
  • It does not respond to an appellate brief or amendment reply within four months.
  • After you have submitted drawings and paid the issue fee, it won’t issue a Patent within four months.
  • It does not issue an allowance or Office Action within the four months following an appellate decision.
  • It doesn’t issue any patents within three years of the filing date. You have not filed a continuation, divisional, or purchased a delay for an Office Action response.
  • Appeals, secrecy orders, or interferences cause the delay.

Can patents be renewed?

A patent is valid for 20 years, subjected to renewal through maintenance fee, from the filing date. After the 20-year period, the protection patent provides will end. This allows others to create and market the invention.

What are the patent maintenance deadlines?

All utility and reissue utility patents issued after December 12, 1980 are subject to maintenance fees. Maintenance fees are not required for a design patent or plant patent or to register a statutory invention.

To keep the patent rights after a utility patent issue, you must pay three maximum maintenance fees.

  • The first maintenance fee should be on the 3.5-year anniversary.
  • Second maintenance fee due on the 7.5-year anniversary
  • The third maintenance fee is due on the 11.5-year anniversary.

What happens after the patent expires?

Patents become public domain after the expiration of their term. What does this mean to a patent holder? This means that the patent holder will no longer have the ability to prevent others from using, making, or selling his invention.

Patents become public domain after the expiration of their term.

Other people will be free to copy the patent-protected invention and sell it without the need for the patent holder’s consent.

This will allow other pharmaceutical companies to make generic versions of the drug and sell them to the public at lower prices.

While the inventor of a product can continue to make and sell it, he should be aware that others may also have made similar products. The patent expires, and anyone can copy the invention to sell his version, even if it is an exact copy of the inventor’s.

So why is the law imposing an expiration date for patents? Why not let them exist indefinitely? Because of the potential for monopoly, the government has restricted an inventor’s time to enjoy his patent.

Patents rights expire, and previously protected technology and only available to a handful of people are now widely used. Prices drop, making it easier for more people to produce the same invention and then sell it to the public.