postheadericon How to Determine Patent Duration

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) protects patent rights for a maximum duration of 20 years. The duration will vary depending on the type of patent and what adjustments are applied. Patent rights will be terminated if requirements are not duly met. It will be helpful to learn this information carefully before entrusting an attorney for any legal matter.

How to Determine Patent Duration

1 Determine the duration of your patent based on the following descriptions. There are 3 types of patents: Utility Patents are issued for new inventions that can be utilized such as processes, manufacturing, machines, or chemical compositions. They account for 90% of all patents in the U.S. These include pharmaceutical drugs, computer parts, discovered genes or bacteria, transmissions, Internet tools, and everything made for its usefulness. The patent rights for utilities will have a life of 20 years starting on the filing date of patent application or 17 years starting on the issue date of patent grant. Design Patents are issued for new inventions that have unique or decorative design. These include furniture, ornaments, public structures, or patterns. If the object or material has some functionality, it is patented for its utility and not design. Patent rights for design last up to 14 years from the time the patent was granted. Plant Patents are issued for newly discovered or invented plants produced asexually. Sexually produced plants can be monopolized by breeders under the Plant Variety Protection Act. Patent rights for plants will have a life of 20 years starting on the filing date of application.

How to Determine Patent Duration

2 Allow adjustments for maximum duration of patent protection depending on the case. Maximum duration can be extended if government intervention limits the life of patent rights. This can be applied to new drugs that are regulated and are awaiting approval from the FDA, or to any delays caused by the PTO. Maximum duration can be reduced if the government deems it necessary for an invention to be used by other than the patentee before patent expires. This can be applied to patented inventions that must be used for national emergency, or to anti-competitive practices by patentee. In this case, licensing of invention will be permitted in exchange of royalties to the patentee.

How to Determine Patent Duration

3 Avoid losing your patent rights. A patent is subject to termination if the following occurs: Failure to pay fees such as renewal or maintenance fees. Failure to provide adequate descriptions and uses of invention or if invention is deemed legally inadequate. Similar patent have been discovered referred to as prior-art references. Failure to disclose material information which is committing “fraud on the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).” Illegal conduct by the patentee such as anti-trust violation.

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