Getting a patent for your invention or intellectual property is an important step for inventors, artists, and businesses looking to protect their creativity and intellectual achievements. But how long do patents last? When it comes to understanding patent protection, looking into regularly asked questions can be a useful first step. Here’s a look at the frequently asked questions regarding patent length and how they are answered for people in Dallas, Texas.

What is a Patent?

A patent is the exclusive right to own, use and in some cases sell an invention. The patent allows the inventor to block other people from making, using or selling the invention without permission. An inventor typically seeks a patent in the United States by filing an application with the Patent and Trademark Office.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

In the United States, the term of a patent is 20 years from the date the application is filed. It’s important to note that the 20-year patent term is applicable to applications for patents that are filed on and after June 8, 1995. The patent term for applications that were filed before June 8, 1995 is 17 years from the date the patent was granted.

Does the Term of Patent Protection Have to be 20 Years?

No, the term of patent protection can be longer or shorter than 20 years in some circumstances. The term of a patent may be extended if the Patent and Trademark Office determines that the patent was granted with a delayed issuance. The term of patent protection can also be shortened if the patent is subjected to a terminal disclaimer or if the patent expires because of the failure to pay the required maintenance fees.

What is a Maintenance Fee?

Maintenance fees are fees that are regularly paid to the Patent and Trademark Office to keep a patent in force. Maintenance fees are due 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years after the date the patent is issued. If the maintenance fees are not paid, then the patent expires.

Are Maintenance Fees Required for Design Patents?

No, design patents are not subject to maintenance fees. The term of a design patent is 14 years from the date the patent is issued.

What is the Grace Period?

The patent law includes a grace period that gives inventors an additional 6-months, after the patent is granted, to file substitute applications. The purpose of the grace period is to give inventors sufficient time to make changes to their patent in the event that the invention was not properly patented.

What Determines the Scope of a Patent?

The scope of a patent is determined by the terms of the patent itself. The patent will cover any invention that meets the claims or descriptions of the patent. Generally speaking, if an invention does not meet the claims or descriptions of the patent, then it is considered to be outside the scope of the patent.


Patent Length,

Patent Protection,

Maintenance Fees