When Will My Patent Expire?
A common misconception Texas patent attorneys see is that once you are awarded a patent on a product or invention, it is yours forever. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The patent you are granted will only last for a limited time, depending on the nature of your invention. In general:
- Plant Patents that cover new or hybrid vegetation expire in 20 years.
- Design Patents that cover new ways of making an existing object expire in 15 years.
- Utility Patents for machines, software, manufactured articles, etc. expire in 20 years.
Exceptions to standard patent expiration dates do exist in the following circumstances:
- Extensions are sometimes granted in the pharmaceutical industry if FDA approval has stalled the marketing of the patented drug or formula. The extension of the patent is usually proportionate to the delay experienced.
- If you fail to pay the maintenance fees required in the 3rd, 7th and 11th year of your patent, your patent can end prematurely.
- A patent can be withdrawn or canceled prematurely during reexamination by the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USTPO).
When your patent ultimately expires, the protections you enjoyed from others not being able to copy or model your patented product or invention cease to exist.
New inventors will be free to re-create and market your invention and pricing may go down for the invention as it is no longer “one-of-a-kind.” Nothing will stop you, however, from continuing to market the invention yourself as you did before the patent expired. You may simply face more competition.
Since patent protection is limited in duration, it’s critical to embark on your patent journey wisely and correctly from inception to the day your patent is granted.
Texas patent attorneys know that rookie or needless mistakes during the application process can cause delays, setbacks and problems that could result in years of unnecessary delay and expense.
This ultimately cheapens and weakens your patent, all while the clock keeps ticking until you no longer hold exclusive rights.
Our unique process provides inventors with a Litigation Quality Patents from the start, so that their limited years as a patent holder have the greatest chance of being profitable ones.
If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our Texas patent attorneys to discuss how we can assist you in creating a Litigation Quality Patent, contact our Austin, Texas, office at (512) 649-1046.