The USPTO has issued your patent

Table of Contents

1.1 How long does a utility patent last?

1.2 Patent expiration

1.3 Extensions to the Patent

1.1 How long does a Patent last?

The United States has the following rules for determining the validity of utility patents:

  • Patent term for applications filed after June 8, 1995 is 20 years from the date of first U.S. application.
  • The patent term for pending applications and patents that were still valid on June 8, 1995 is either 17 or 20 years from the issue date.

If you meet the following conditions, your patent can be extended.

  • 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-month period following an appellate decision.
  • If patent isn’t  issued within three years from the filing date and failure to file a continuation application or bought a delay for an Office Action reply.
  • Appeals, secrecy orders, or interferences cause the delay.

1.2 Patent expiration

Patents expire when their term ends (20 years after the earliest priority date) or because the 4-year maintenance fee has not been paid on time.

Either the patent’s term is over, or you have not paid the maintenance fees, it expires, and the invention covered by it becomes public domain. This means that the invention can be freely used and made without your permission.

1.3 Extensions to Patent

Patenting improvements to a patented item is possible. Patent extension strategies are a specialty of drug companies. One common method drug companies use to extend patents is reformulation or repositioning drugs. Reformulation refers to the application of different formulations of the same drug. On the other hand, repositioning is the process where a new therapeutic uses for the drug are discovered. New advances often focus on simplifying dosing and how the drug is administered. Companies often use extended-release versions of drugs to reformulate their products. Injectable drugs can be made nasally sprayable by creating new ways to administer them. Dissolvable tablets can be used to extend patent protection.

Patent protection can be extended by modifying a drug to allow it to be administered in another form. Patent life can be extended by repositioning the drug. The FDA rules allow for three additional years of protection for drug companies if they discover new drug uses.