If you are a business owner looking to protect your intellectual property, one of the first steps you might take is to file for a patent. Filing for a patent is an important process, as it provides protection for your work, and it is crucial to have a general understanding of the length of a patent. The process of obtaining a patent is a lengthy one, as it can take anywhere from one to five years to obtain, depending on the complexity of the invention. Depending on a couple of factors, the timeline of how long a patent lasts will vary. Here, we discuss five different things to consider when understanding how long a patent lasts.

The patent timeline largely depends on what type of patent you apply for. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has three different types of patents, which are the design patent, the utility patent, and the plant patent. A design patent protects the visual characteristics of an invention, such as its shape, pattern and ornamental design. It lasts for 15 years. On the other hand, a utility patent protects the functional aspects of an invention and lasts for 20 years, and a plant patent protects asexually reproduced plants, lasting for 20 years as well.

Understanding the time limit of the patent, which is the beginning date and expiration date, is the next step to consider in the patent process. With a utility patent, the start date is the filing date, as long as a patent application is filed within one year of publicly displaying the invention. The expiration date of a utility patent is 20 years from the filing date. For a design patent, the start date of the patent is the filing date of the patent, and the expiration date is 15 years from the filing date. For a plant patent, the start date is the filing date, and the expiration date is 20 years from the filing date.

The next element to consider with regards to a patent is when the patent is infringed upon. Generally, anytime a patent is used or sold without the permission of the patent owner, it is considered to be an infringement on the patent. It is important to understand that when a patent is infringed, the patent owner may have the right to seek compensation.

Finally, it is important to consider that when a patent is issued, the owner of the patent is responsible for maintaining the patent. Generally, maintenance fees must be paid to keep the patent over the duration of the patent lifespan. The USPTO requires a maintenance fee to be paid at the 3.5 year, 7.5 year and 11.5 year marks, in order for the patent to remain valid. Maintaining the patent will help to ensure that your rights to the invention are not violated, as the patent will remain in effect.

When understanding the timeline for the length of a patent, it is important to discuss the best situation for you with a business attorney who is well versed in local regulations and can provide specific advice tailored to you and your patent. Companies like UpCounsel are great resources to find attorneys that are experienced and knowledgeable in laws regarding patents. They have experienced attorneys that have worked with small business to Fortune 1000 companies in the past, and they have an immense array of resources to help with understanding the complexities of a patent and forecasting its timeline.

Patents can be a complex matter and understanding the basics of how long a patent lasts is an important point to comprehend. By considering the five items outlined above, such as knowing the three patent types, understanding the timeline of a patent, understanding when a patent is infringed upon, and having the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney, you can have a better understanding of how long your patent will last. By doing this, you can be well equipped with the information needed to make the right decisions in protecting your intellectual property.




Intellectual Property