It is no secret that the patent process can be a long and daunting one. But whether you are looking to protect a new business innovation or an invention, it is an invaluable asset and understanding how to get started and how long a patent lasts can help you make the best decisions for you and your company.

When it comes to patents, there are many steps that must be taken in order to secure one. As such, the process can be overwhelming and unfamiliar to many. Even if you are not seeking to register a patent for yourself or your company, understanding the process and the general timeline of how long a patent lasts is essential.

In this article, we will discuss how to get started on the patent process and how long a patent typically lasts. It is important to consider that the laws and regulations regarding patents can vary from one state to another, so when looking for counsel on the patent process, make sure to look for attorneys who are experienced with the local regulations for your area. For those living and working in Los Angeles, UpCounsel's network of experienced attorneys have the expertise to provide you with cost-effective legal services and assist in applying for a patent in the state of California.

How to Begin the Patent Process

If you are considering filing for a patent, the first step is to make sure that your invention or product is eligible. To do this, you must be sure that it is eligible to receive patent protection and that it is not actually covered by an existing patent.

Once you have determined that your invention or product is eligible for patent protection, you must then conduct a thorough patent search. This step is to ensure that there are no prior patents that cover the same or similar invention. The easy way to do this is to conduct a preliminary patent search on Google Patents, however, conducting a more comprehensive patent search through sources like the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and/or using a patent search service may be necessary, depending on the circumstances.

The next step in the patent application process is to file a patent application. The USPTO must approve the claims in the patent application and if approved, the patent is granted, and the inventor is afforded protection from being copied.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

Once your patent application is granted, the invention is then protected for a certain period of time. For utility and design patents, the period of protection is 20 years from the day that the patent application was filed. For plant patents, the duration of protection is 17 years from the date of issuance.

It's important to note that there are other factors which could influence how long a patent is valid. For instance, patent maintenance fees must be paid to keep a patent in force throughout the duration of its life. Additionally, the scope of the patent can change throughout its life, meaning that any changes which are made to the patent may influence its duration.


Understanding the process for how to get started on the patent process and the duration of a patent is essential for any inventor or business looking to protect their invention. With the right attitude and preparedness for the process, patents can provide a great deal of protection for those who register them and give them a valuable asset in the market.


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