How Long Does a Patent Last?

Patents provide inventors with protection for their innovations for a limited period, and owners of patents can sue those who violate them – thus inventors must carefully track their patent’s lifespan and monitor whether their rights have been infringed upon.

Until 1994, United States patent laws required that utility and plant patents expire 17 years from their grant date. Congress then modified 35 U.S.C 154 in order to bring American practice in line with international practices.

Utility Patents

Utility patents offer protection from unapproved use or duplication for 20 years; this period depends on many factors, including when your first non-provisional patent application was filed.

Utility patents are awarded for “novel and useful machines, manufactures, composition of matter or processes.” To qualify for patent protection, inventions must be both non-obvious and novel; to help ensure this, applicants are required to conduct a detailed prior art search prior to filing their non-provisional patent applications; however, this can be time-consuming and expensive task.

Furthermore, results of such searches may change as more prior art is found during patent examination. Therefore, it is advisable to conduct your search with assistance from an experienced patent attorney.

Additionally, if an inventor files another patent that is similar to his or her initial one, the USPTO may require them to submit a terminal disclaimer that restricts its scope; similarly if patent claims are unclear or otherwise invalid.

As well as reviewing an invention’s novelty and patentability, the USPTO also assesses its claims clarity. If patent claims are unclear or fail to meet patentability requirements, they may issue an office action asking the inventor to amend them within 30 days or risk having their patent abandoned by USPTO.

Patents may also be invalidated before their expiration dates in three specific situations: failure to meet patentability requirements; novelty issues with filing; or invalid claims being found against it by the USPTO.

Maintaining a utility patent requires periodic payment of maintenance fees at 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years post grant date. The USPTO sends out notice of this due date; payment should be completed no later than six months following it to avoid losing protection of patent rights.

Design Patents

Design patents protect the ornamental appearance of articles of manufacture that are new and non-obvious, providing 15 years of protection without adjustments and extensions as utility patents do. Companies like Instagram and Coca-Cola utilize design patents for protecting graphical aspects of their app icons and beverage containers – such protection can help keep competitors at bay and provide additional legal security against counterfeit versions of these designs.

To obtain a design patent, a person must file individual applications for each and every distinct and independent article of manufacture; however, one application may be filed if all related articles function similarly and share similar aesthetic features; for instance eyeglasses and door handles with similar shapes would fall within this category (37 CFR SS 1.153). Different surface ornamentations on one article requires multiple claims (37 CFR SS 1.153).

Filing for a design patent requires providing full disclosure of an article’s shape and visual appearance; the information must be clear and concise, as well as providing details via ink drawings or photographs of its features.

Like utility patents, design patents go through an examination process with the USPTO examiner. He or she checks compliance with formalities, completeness of drawing disclosure and compares claimed invention to “prior art”, consisting of issued patents and published materials. If an examiner believes an invention to be not patentable they will issue an Office action detailing why its patentability should be rejected along with any substantive matters that affect patentability.

Intellectual property protection is vitally important. With the assistance of an Orange County intellectual property lawyer, you can avoid costly errors that could cause your patent to expire prematurely. Understanding how long a patent lasts and the importance of filing date are paramount – for more information about how long a patent will cover your invention contact one for a free consultation consultation session today!

Plant Patents

Plant patents offer you protection for seeds, fruit and plant types you create through asexual reproduction and cultivation methods that produce desired outcomes. Plant patents provide another important way to protect your inventions; giving you exclusive rights to stop others from growing, selling or using your patented plant for any purpose whatsoever. Their terms typically last 17 years from when they were granted as opposed to 20 years from filing date – unlike utility patents which typically extend for 20 years from filing date.

Filing for a plant patent involves filling out and having reviewed by the USPTO a non-provisional patent application with detailed botanical description, steps for reproduction and reasons why you believe the plant meets criteria for patent protection. This process may require extensive documentation depending on how active a market class the plant may be in.

To qualify for a plant patent, one must demonstrate that their creation is new and has not been displayed or sold commercially before applying. Furthermore, you must use asexual reproduction techniques – rooting cuttings, budding buds or layering- to develop it and patent it. While only one claim can be included with your plant patent application at a time compared with utility patents (but additional claims can be added by paying an additional fee).

inventors seeking a plant patent should hire a patent agent to prepare their application. Patent agents have passed the USPTO patent bar examination and can help inventors prepare an application on their behalf while simultaneously communicating with them regarding any relevant issues or inquiries from them.

Successful patents require technical expertise and careful attention to application detail. Your quality application could significantly influence how long your patent lasts; that is why working with an experienced intellectual property attorney to ensure your plant patent meets all required criteria is advised.

International Patents

Shark Tank and Ellen’s Design Challenge demonstrate that American dream of becoming an inventor or entrepreneur remains alive and kicking, with many entrepreneurs seeking patent protection for their new inventions to increase value and exclusivity of products.

Patents exist to safeguard innovations that are novel, inventive, and useful; however, their lifespan is not infinite; most patents expire 20 years from when they were filed or issued and renewal payments must be paid periodically throughout its duration or it will lapse altogether.

How and when a patent will expire depends on both its location and usage. Utility patents typically last 20 years from when they were issued while design patents have a 15-year lifespan from when they were filed, although patents issued prior to May 13 2015 have 14-year terms from when they were originally granted.

At times, patents will lapse because their owner fails to pay required maintenance fees to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This typically happens when attempts at commercializing their invention have failed and their inventor sees no point in investing more time or resources into something they no longer see as valuable – they move onto other projects instead.

Patent owners can petition the USPTO for an extension if government delays have prevented them from reaping full advantage from their original period of time, for example drug companies arguing they were unable to bring their product to market due to FDA delays in approval.

When patents are infringed, their owners can pursue legal action against those responsible. While this process can be expensive and time consuming, working with an experienced patent attorney will ensure you don’t waste your time or resources.

International patent procedures offer an effective means of delaying national patent processes across various countries and regions, giving you more time and money to assess commercial viability before incurring time and fee commitments for national processes and fees. As part of the Paris Convention and World Intellectual Property Organization guidelines, international patent procedures provide up to 30 months before you must initiate individual national processes in each of your target nations or regions.