Percentage and number of patents that are filed and approved each year

What Percentage of Patents Are Approved?

Inventors choose to protect their ideas and inventions by filing patents. A key element that inventors consider before filing their patent application is whether it will succeed. In the United States over 600,000 patents applications are filed each year at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This number includes the number of utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. So, exactly what percentage of patents get approved? We will answer what number of patents get approved each year in the U.S and elsewhere.

Before we dive in, we just wanted to remind you that patent applications are formal requests that are made to the USPTO (United State Patent and Trademark Office). The patent application includes a set of one or more claim that a person needs to make part of their application to get the application approved and a patent issued.

The trend of how many patent applications will get approved in the upcoming years is interesting to see, especially since the number of patents that are granted increases slightly every year. As of writing this article (2019), the USPTO has only made the patent statistics up to 2015 available, so a lot of the calculations that you'll see below are based on numbers from 1963 to 2015.

What Number of Patents are Approved?

The number of patents that are approved changes every year. According to the most recent statistics from the USPTO, approximately 52% of all patents filed in the U.S are approved. In 2015, 629,647 patent applications were filed and 325,979 were approved. The number of patent applications continues to increase ever-so-slightly every year. The number of granted patents is also on the rise, rising from 47% in 2010 to 52% in 2015. See the table below for more info on the number of patents that are filed and approved each year in the United States (US).

How Many Patents Are Filed Each Year?

Year of Application
Total Patent
Total Patent
Percentage of Patents

Having said that, you should consider the fact that calculating the number of new patents that are granted is difficult because the numbers that we presented here includes patent application that were initially rejected after being examined. After being rejected, inventors re-apply for "new," very similar patents that are known as "continuations."

A study conducted by Yale University showed that between 1963 to 2005, the USPTO allowed only 11.4% of new patent applications that are unrelated to any other patent application while giving a non-final rejection to more than 86% of newly filed patent applications.

2.3% of patent applications were abandoned prior to the USPTOs issuance of a first action decision.

That said there is some upside as the USPTO granted 36% of patent applications after one or more rounds of amendments and negotiations with the patent examiner. Approximately 14% of patent application were abandoned between the USPTOs non-final rejection and final rejection. Source

How Many Utility Patents Are Filed Each Year?

This table from the USPTO shows you how many utility patents are filed for each year in the United States, as well as the number of utility patents that are approved every year.

Year of Application GrantNumber of Utility Applications Filed Each YearNumber of Approved ApplicationsPercentage of Approved Applications

How Many Design Patents Are Filed Each Year?

This table from the USPTO shows you how many design patents are filed for each year in the United States, as well as the number of design patents that are approved every year.

Year of Application GrantNumber of Design Patent Application Filed Each YearNumber of Approved ApplicationsPercentage of Approved Applications

Patent Approval Rate

Some critics of the USPTO argue that patent examiners are sloppy and issue low-quality patents. Some even claim that over 95% of patent applications are eventually approved. So, are they right? The short answer is "no," they're not right according to the USPTO numbers that we summarized for you in the chart above. The patent approval rate in the U.S today is close to 52%, very far off from the 95% figure that some claim. So, if you think that the USPTO is handing out patents freely, you're gravely mistaken. So, what are some of the reasons why the USPTO rejects patent applications? Read below to find out.

Top 3 Reasons for Receiving a Patent Rejection

  • Invention is Not Novel. To get your patent application approved, your USPTO patent examiner must find your invention to be novel, non-obvious, and meets the patentability criteria. This is a subjective determination based on the opinion of the examiner that's assigned to your patent. So, if your invention is not the first of its kind (lacks novelty), the patent examiner might reject it on the basis of the patentability criteria. Also, if the examiner find that there is another invention that is the same as yours and was invented before yours, the examiner might find that your invention lacks novelty. Therefore, before applying for a patent, you should do a patent search to find out whether there is a similar invention to yours.
  • Your Invention is Obvious. The second most common reason for the rejection of patents is the fact that your invention needs to be nonobvious. So, not only does your invention need to be novel, it must also be non-obvious. The USPTO patent examiner will make this subjective determination, as well. Said differently, your invention must be unique. To reduce the chances of being rejected, you should make sure that your invention is as unique as possible from anything that's already out there. The more unique, the better the chances that the patent examiner will find you invention to be nonobvious. If you happen to receive non-final rejection letter from the USPTO, you should look for an attorney who will file a response argument, claiming that your invention has certain features and components that you did not cite in your patent application, this could get your invention approved.
  • Errors in Your Patent Application. The third most common reason patent applications get rejected is due to informality errors in the patent application and these include: (1) issues with reference numbers on drawings (2) issues with paragraph numbers (3) issues with line numbers (4) grammatical or punctuation issues (5) missing abstract (6) exceeding word count on abstract. Second, your patent application may be rejected if you have not sufficiently described how your invention works. As part of your patent application, make sure that you have described how your invention will work. If you fail to accurately describe your invention, the patent office won't be able to determine that your invention is patentable.

Percentage of Patents that are Approved in the U.S

We hope this article was able to shed some light on the percentage and number of patents that are approved each year by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

How Long do Drug Patents Last (ANSWERED)

Drug patents have sprung a debate around how effective the patent system is in the United States. Drug makers want drug patent life to be extended while generic drug manufacturers want to reduce the lifespan of pharmaceutical drug patents. This article will cover how long drug patents last in the U.S, as well as other countries, such as Canada, the UK, and Australia. We will also cover the importance of drug patents.

Every year the pharmaceutical drug market gets rattled by the expiration of patents on blockbuster drugs and medications. When brand name drugs expire, this opens the door for generic substitutes to enter the market. That said, just because a patent on a brand name drug expires does not mean that a generic substitute will be immediately available, drug manufacturers use several methods to block generics from entering the market for as long as possible.

Before we dive in, let's take a look at how long drug patents last in the U.S.

How Long Do Drug Patents Last For?

In the United States, attorneys often throw out the 20 year patent term without adding more detail. That said, Drug patents last for 20 years from your earliest patent filing date. For patents filed before June 8, 1995, the patent will last 20 years from the filing date or 17 years after the patent was issued, whichever is later. Source

This means that the 20 year term for drug patents does not start from the date the drug was brought to market, but rather from the date that the drug was invented and the drug patent application was filed.

Drug patents can easily take 8 to 10 years to be issued because of all the testing that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires from the person or company filing for the drug patent.

Why do Drug Patents Take so Long in the United States?

Drug patents take so long because the FDA requires drug makers to conduct tests and experiments on human beings to test the drug's efficacy and side effects. The more data the FDA requires, the longer the patent will take to be granted. While the drug is undergoing all of these trials and testing the 20 year patent clock is running.

Because pharmaceutical drugs take so long to be issued by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), pharmaceutical companies are always looking for ways to extent the patent life of their top-selling drugs.

So, you might be asking yourself, why is it so important for pharmaceutical makers to extend the life of their patents? It's important because they are business to make money and extending the patent term (patent life) of their top-selling medications means that they can make more money for a longer period of time.

Some criticize the U.S patent system for rewarding pharmaceutical manufacturers by granting them market exclusivity for long periods of time that enables them to recoup their research and development (R&D) expenses along with hefty profits.

That said, it may be easy to blame the U.S Government and the pharmaceutical makers' lawyers for creating such a system, but the length of market exclusivity in the United States is what encourages so many companies to develop new, helpful drugs in the first place. Also, it's what encourages them to introduce their treatments first in the United States. This is why drugs generally reach the U.S market more quickly than any other place on earth. So, is market exclusivity really a bad thing? That's up to you to decide.

How Long do Drug Patents Last in Canada?

The law in Canada provides 20 years of drug patent protection that starts on the day a company files its drug patent application. The actual length of market exclusivity is between 8 to 10 years in Canada because of the extensive testing and regulatory hurdles that drug makers have to go through before bringing their pharmaceuticals to market. Source

In Canada, the government requires new drugs to undergo certain procedures that reduce the patent life of drugs. Such procedures include clinical trials, new drug reviews, and listing requirements with the Federal Canadian Government as well as Provincial Authorities.

Some argue that Canada may lose out on the next wave of lucrative pharmaceutical investments unless it develops a patent system that is on par with the U.S Patent System. Some suggest "restoring patent life" to offset the regulator delays that occur when introducing new pharmaceutical drugs to market. But, this view has been met with some criticism claiming that adding to the patent life of brand names drugs has the potential to raise generic drug prices for consumers and insurers alike.

That said, if Canada wants to encourage multinational drug companies to do business there, improving its intellectual property protections will definitely bring in more companies willing to invest their money and time in Canada.

How Long do Drug Patents Last in the UK?

UK Drug patents last for 20 years from the date of filing the patent application. To obtain a patent in the UK, you need to file your patent application at the UK Intellectual Property Office. Source

The UK Intellectual Property Office offers similar patent protection to inventors as is afforded by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

How Long do Drug Patents Last in Australia?

In Australia, pharmaceutical drug patents last up to 25 years from the filing date of your application. The Australian Intellectual Property Office requires inventions to be new, non-obvious, and different from existing technology. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your invention and the protection you are seeking, examination of your patent may take between six months to several years. Source

Why is Drug Patent Life Important?

Drug patent life is important because the longer a patent on a specific drug, the longer time a manufacturer has market exclusivity. What this means is that a drug maker can sell the brand name drug for as long as possible to recoup its investment and profit from selling the drug.

If drug manufactures don't have a long enough drug patent term, they will have spent enormous sums of money developing and testing their drug to get it approved and by the time they get to market, they wouldn't have enough time to recoup their investment and profit from the hard work it took them to develop the drug.

Drugs makes a lot of money once they hit the market and millions of people depend on them. When the patent life on a brand name drug expires, generic manufacturers step in, engineer a new drug with a similar chemical composition and sell it at a much reduced cost. Once this happens, most people stop purchasing the brand name drug and opt to purchase the cheaper, generic alternative.

Although some may disagree with this statement, but protecting brand name drugs is important because it encourages large companies to invest their time and money in developing new drugs to treat the ever-growing number of ailments that we suffer from. Without decent patent protection, drug makers won't be incentivised to invest their time and money in coming up with new cures.

When a company owns a patent for a drug, the drug is sold under a brand name. While the patent is in effect, doctors prescribe the brand name drug. This gives the brand name drug company a monopoly over the drug until the patent period ends. The long brand name drug companies have patents over the brand name drug, the longer before other companies can make generic versions to make them more affordable.

Some argue that the current patent term stifles lowering drug prices and making them more accessible to the masses, we disagree because if the brand name drug company wouldn't have had to reason to develop and market the new drug, there wouldn't be a cure at all. If you disagree, please feel free to leave us a comment on why you disagree.

Examples of Brand Name Drug Patents that Have Recently Expired

Here are some blockbuster brand name drugs that have patents that expired in the past year:

  • Lyrica. In December of 2018 the patent on Lyrica was set to expire. Lyrica was developed by Pfizer to treat to for nerve and muscle pain. The drug made Pfizer $3.45 billion dollars in sales. Last time we checked, Pfizer was working on extending the patent and in November of 2018, it was able to extend the patent's life to June 30th, 2019.
  • Cialis. Cialis was approved in 2003 to treat erectile dysfunction. Cialis has been a major seller for Eli Lilly since its approval, however Cialis entered into a settlement with generic drug manufacturers to have its patent expire in September of 2018.
  • Xolair. Novartis and Roche developed Xolair to treat allergic asthma and chronic idiopathic urtcarial. Their patent expired in 2018 but only after raking in hefty sales.
  • Neulasta. Amgen developed Neulasta, which helps the body make more white blood cells after receiving cancer medication. The drug brought in $4 billion in sales for Amgen in 2014. Neulasta's drug patent expired in 2015.
  • Zytiga. Johnson & Johnson lost its patent on Zytiga it's profitable prostate cancer therapy medication in 2018, opening the door for viable generics to compete.

What Factors Reduce Drug Patent Life?

The main factor that reduces drug patent life is that the 20 year patent clock starts ticking as soon as drug is invented and a patent application is filed with the USPTO. This means that pharma manufacturers lose time while they are seeking FDA approval for their drug while not being able to sell it for 7 to 10 years until they get approval.

This means that 10 out of they 20 years are lost while the FDA approves the drug, leaving 10 years for the drug makers to profit from their product. Some have considered legislation which would give drug makers 15 years to sell their drug from the date the drug becomes available in the market. That said, this is quite complicated and a lot of policy considerations have to be taken into account.

Currently, drug companies do whatever they can to extend the patent life of their drug to maximize their profits. Lets explore whether patent term restoration addresses this problem.

Drug Patent Term Restoration

To address the patent life that is lost while the FDA approves human drugs, Congress allowed patent term restoration. PTR (Patent Term Restoration) seeks to compensate drug makers for the time lost while the FDA approves their medication.

PTR allows drug makers to extend their drug's life for a maximum of 5 years regardless of how many years the company lost while waiting for FDA approval. There is a second restriction on patent term restoration which limits the patent life of a drug to 14 years from the date that the FDA approves the drug.

Although some limitations apply to patent term restoration, the added patent life can make some pharmaceutical manufacturers billions of dollars, especially if they are the only ones with a treatment for a specific illness or disease.

We will cover more ways that are used by brand name drug makers to extend the patent life of their blockbuster drugs below.

How do Brand Name Drug Companies Extend the Life of their Drug Patents?

  • Pediatric Exclusivity. Many brand name drug manufacturers are extending the terms of their patents by claiming pediatric exclusivity. They do so by seeking to test a drug on children and by doing so, the USPTO grants them an additional 6 months of patent life. Companies can do this two times using the same drug. Now, you're probably saying to yourself that six months is too short, but in some cases, this could literally help a drug maker make tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on the popularity of the drug.
  • Different Versions. A trick that many drug makers use to extend the term life of their patent is by combining medical components in a different way. For example, Adderall XR was reformulated from the already patented Adderall by creating an extended release version that extends the drug's period of effectiveness. Other manufactures have sough administering the drug in a different way. For example, Limitrex a well-known migraine drug originally sold in tablet form was reformulated for intranasal delivery, this extended the patent life of the drug.
  • New Use Rule. The FDA allows patent extensions of three years if a drug manufacturer finds a "new use" for its drug. What this basically means is that if a manufacturer discover that its drug can treat a different illness or achieve a different remedy, they can increase the patent for an additional three years on the basis of the drug's new purpose.
  • Chemical Adjustment. Drug makers often make adjustments to the amount of isomers in a medication. By doing this, they are essentially changing the drug and they can patent the the drug as a completely "new drug," thereby extending its patent life. This situation occurs when an isomer doesn't make a drug more effective, allowing manufacturers to remove it and "purify" the drug, making it something that's completely new and therefore patent-able.
  • Combining Medications. Some pharmaceutical makers have been successful in extending the patent life of some medication by combining two drugs into one. At times, they have found the new combination to be more effective than the original drug. These fusing of two drugs is common and the newly formed drug gets a new patent to extend its life. One example of this is when Pfizer combined its patented drugs Norvasc and Lipitor into a new medication and had a patent issued for the new combination called "Caduet."
  • Rare Disease Drugs. The FDA offers a 7 year extension of patent life for drugs that treat rare diseases. The FDA defines rare disease as those affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the United States. The FDA offers this extension to encourage drug companies to develop treatments for these diseases. Without extending the patent life, companies would be discouraged from spending their time and money to develop a medication that won't be used by many people, so to make up for that, the FDA gives them an additional 7 years of patent life.

Drug Patent Length vs Market Exclusivity

Now that we've covered the lengths of drug patents and how some manufacturers extend them, lets explore market exclusivity. If you're not part of the pharmaceutical industry, then you've probably never heard of market exclusivity, so lets explore what is market exclusivity for drugs?

Explaining the difference between patents and market exclusivity will help you understand market exclusivity.

By now, you should know that patents are granted by the USPTO and protect the chemical makeup and claims of a drug. Exclusivity is a right granted by the FDA once a drug is approved and this right grants the drug maker market exclusivity which blocks the approval of any generic drugs until the brand name manufacturers exclusivity clock runs out. Source

The FDA established market exclusivity to rewards new drug innovation and to curb generic drug makers from profiting off the success of those who contributed their time and money to develop a new drug.

Another major difference between patents and market exclusivity is that a drug patent can expire before the FDA approves a drug whereas market exclusivity is granted upon the approval of a drug by the FDA.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

This article dove deep into how long do patents last and how drug manufacturers increase the length of their patents. We also covered how long drug patents last in the U.S and other countries such as Canada, UK, and Australia. We also discussed the importance of drug patents as well as how drug manufacturers increase the life of their patents. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Why are patents important?

Why Are Patents Important? (ANSWERED)

Getting a patent isn't easy and it's also expensive, so why do so many people patent their inventions and processes? This article will discuss the importance of patents, their benefits, their advantages and disadvantages, as well as the pros and cons of patents.

Patents are important for a variety of reasons that we will discuss below, but before we do that lets explain what is a patent? A patent is an exclusive right to use an invention or process that is granted by the Government to an inventor. Patents allow the inventor to exclude others from making, using, or selling their invention in the country where the patent was issued.

Patents are usually issued to actual persons and not to companies, but it's pretty common to find inventors assigning (transferring) their interest in their patent to their employer.

Patents typically protect inventions, products, processes, or designs that meet certain requirements of novelty and utility. Modernly, patents in the United States last for 20 years from the filing date of the patent. In the U.S, patent applications are filed at the USPTO (United States Patent & Trademark Office).

Why Are Patents Important? (Advantages of Patents)

Patents are important because they help protect your invention by giving you the exclusive right to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling, or importing your invention without your permission.

Patents are beneficial in many other ways, here are a few more reasons why patenting your invention or process is important:

  • Protection. Patents give you the ability to protect your invention starting from the issue date of your patent. No one can manufacture, sell, or import your patented invention without first getting your consent to do so
  • Exclusivity. Patents allow you to use your patented invention or process and to profit from it exclusively on your own for 20 years from the date you filed for your patent
  • Priority. Being the first to patent an invention gives the patentee superior rights over subsequent patents. Therefore, if you're someone who's seeking capital for an idea, it's smart to patent your invention before disclosing the idea to potential investors and licensees to keep them from stealing your patent idea and patenting it before you even get a chance. If you're the first to patent the idea, you will be the sole owner of that patent
  • Profit. Patents allow you to license your patents for other to use for an agreed up royalty or fee. This is a huge advantage for people who wants to license or sell their patent rights to companies or individuals for a profit. Charging a royalty for the use of your patent (lets say 5%) can be a better options for inventors who do not have the resources and expenses to bring the idea or patented invention to market themselves
  • Innovation. Patents encourage innovation because people want to make money and what better way to do so than inventing something, protecting the invention, and later using it to earn some money. If people believe that their inventions would not be protected, they might not invent in the first place
  • Limit the Competition. Patenting your idea or design helps businesses limit competition. Just imagine yourself patenting an invention that is sold by both you can your competitor. By patenting the product, you will gain the right to ask your competitor to cease the production and sale of their competing product thereby garnering a larger market share by weeding out your competition
  • Investors. Having a patent or portfolio of patents is extremely valuable for small businesses especially when you consider that potential investors may invest in your company simply for the rights to use a particular patent or set of patents
  • Credibility. Having patents provides increased credibility to both the inventor and their company

Disadvantages of Patents (Cons of Patents)

Patents can be very beneficial, however here are some of the disadvantages and cons of applying for a patent:

  • Disclosing Information. By filing your patent application, you're making specific technical information about your patent publicly available. Keeping some details about your invention secret may be beneficial to stay ahead of your competitors because competitors may look for a way to invent around your patent
  • Time Consuming. Applying for and getting a patent is a very time consuming and lengthy process that often takes anywhere between 2 to 4 years for the government to grant/issue your patent. In our fast-paced world, waiting around for 4 years is a lot of time
  • Costly. It can be quite costly whether your patent is successful or not. You'll have to pay applications fees, searches for existing patents, and attorney's fees which contribute to quite the hefty bill. So even if your patent is unsuccessful, you could be left with bills that range from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the complexity of your patent, the more complex the invention, the greater the cost
  • Complex. One of the arguments that we've heard time and time against is that the process of patenting an item is complex and usually requires the help of an attorney
  • Maintenance Fees. You need to pay periodic maintenance fees the last throughout the life of your patent. There are maintenance fees that must be paid three times throughout the life of your patent. If you fail to pay these fees, you might lose your rights and protections under US Patent law
  • Enforcement. Once you've filed your patent and your patent issues, you can't just sit back and expect the USPTO (Patent Office) to keep all those infringing upon your patent from selling your product, you're going to have proactively monitor the market, look for people infringing on your patent, and find an attorney who will deal with the person infringing upon your patent. Having an attorney take legal action against an infringer is an expensive process
  • Limited Protection. Patents are only good for the country in which they were issued. For example, if you received a patent for invention X in the U.S and someone in China copies your invention, you're out of luck because your patent is only good in the United States. If you have an invention that you want to protect worldwide, you'll have to patent your invention or idea in each country to gain patent protection
  • Lawsuits. If an inventor tries to patent his idea, competitors may file lawsuits in order to invalidate your patent, this is especially true if they believe that your patent can benefit them

All that we ask is that you weight the advantages and disadvantages of patents carefully before you decide that you want to patent your idea or invention. Making an informed decision will save you money, time, and heart ache in the long run.

Types of Patents

The two main types of patents that are issued by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) are utility patents and design patents.

Type #1: Utility Patent

The U.S Code defines utility patents as "any news and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof." Basically what this means is that utility patents protect new machines, systems, and other useful inventions.

Utility patents are among the most valuable forms of intellectual property that a person can hold, but the problem is that they're costly. Depending on the complexity of your invention, patent cost can be huge for most people. Simple inventions can cost a few thousand dollars while more complex inventions can easily send the cost skyrocketing into the tends of thousands of dollars.

Utility Patent Summary
  • Protect how an invention operates or works
  • Lasts 20 years from the date you filed your patent
  • Covers thing like: a process, machine, manufacture, improvement of an existing invention
  • Most commonly issued patent by the USPTO (Approximately 90% of patents are utility patents)
  • Utility patents must serve a practical purpose or use

Type #2: Design Patent

According to the U.S Code, a design patent cover "any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture may obtain a patent therefore." This means that design patents protect the ornamental design of a functional item. This covers things like the design of jewelry, Coca Cola Bottle, furniture, and computer icons.

Having a design patent over an ornamental item gives the patentee (patent holder) the power to exclude others from using a design that is substantially similar to their patented design.

Design Patents Summary
  • Utility patents protect an item's visual aesthetic or look (something that's purely decorative)
  • The design must original to an ornament or product
  • Last up to 20 years from your patent filing date
  • They cannot be renewed once they expire
  • Design patents can be used if the design has been published or sold before the person or company applied for the patent

Pros and Cons of Patents

Inventors must weigh the pros and cons of patents before submitting a patent application. We listed the pros and cons of patenting your invention in this post in the paragraphs above. One of the biggest drawbacks of patenting your invention is the complex and costly patenting process. Many people who do not seek patents don't do so because they don't find support for those who are close to them, they can't afford the high costs of patenting in the U.S, or they don't fully understanding what a patent is.

Understanding the pros and cons of patenting your invention will help you make a more informed decision as to whether to patent your invention or not.

Alternatives to Patents

Some people do not wish to profit from their discoveries and inventions so instead of patenting their invention, some patentees (patent holders) either keep their invention secret or they simple publish it into the public domain.

Some seek to publish their patents because they want to contribute to society while others do it simply to avoid the fees associated with patenting their invention. Once an inventions is published, a subsequent inventor cannot patent the idea or invention any more because it's public and it's not new anymore.

The first obvious drawback of publicly publishing your invention is that you cannot patent it anymore. Also, once you've published it your competitors may patent improvements to your original patent, leaving you without a remedy.

So, if you're someone who does not want competitors to use his invention, publishing your patent is the wrong way to go about things, keeping it a secret is your safest bet. That said, if you keep your invention a secret, you risk competitors developing the same invention and patenting it before you do, so that's something just to keep in mind.

Are Patents Worth It?

Patents are worth it and are valuable for inventors who want to control how their invention is made, how it's used, and to prevent anyone else from profiting from their idea.

That said, there are some disadvantages associated with patenting your idea or invention and we've listed them above. Some of the drawbacks of patenting an invention include cost, time, and the enforcement that comes along with your patent.

Without having a patent, you won't have ownership or control over your invention. This means that you won't be able to sell or license your intellectual property to anyone because you don't have exclusive rights to it. Also, anyone who hears about your idea can imitate it and not having a patent over it makes things much easier.

Why Are Patents Important Conclusion

Patents are important for the variety of reasons that we mentioned throughout this article. We hope this article covered the advantages and disadvantages of patents as well as their pros and cons effectively. If you have any questions or comments about patents and their important, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

How long do patents in the us last?

How Long Do Patents Last?

The amount of time that patents last in the United States has changed a few times over the course of our history. The U.S Constitution provides that inventors should have their inventions and discoveries protected "for limited times," however it doesn't give us an exact number of years. This article will introduce you to the different types of patents out there as well as the length of time that each type of patent lasts. We will cover how long utility patents last as well as design patents.

The first patents in the U.S lasted 14 years from the date that the patent office issued the patent and this was based on the patent term in England. In 1861 the Government increased the patent term from 14 years to 17 years by signing into law the Patent Act of 1861.

U.S Patent law underwent major changes that became effective on or after June 8, 1995. The changes that were made to the U.S patent system made it on par with the patent systems of other countries.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

If you were wondering: how long do patents last for? Patents that were filed on or after June 8, 1995, expire 20 years after the U.S filing date of your patent. For any patents that were in force on June 8, 1995 or for patent applications pending on that date, the patent will expire either 20 years from the filing date or 17 years after the patent was issued, whichever is later.

If you've ever asked an attorney "how long do patents last?" They will often answer by speaking in shorthand of the 20 year patent term, however this isn't entirely correct. The term of a patent (Enforcability of a Patent) does not start until the patent is issued (i.e., the "issue date" of the patent) by the USPTO.

Just remember that patents get their power from a statute, so if you have a patent application that is still pending, you cannot sue anyone for patent infringement until the USPTO issues your patent because until the issue date, there is no patent in existence to even enforce.

What is a Patent?

Patents are granted by the U.S Government and they give the patent holder the exclusive right to use a certain invention, useful process, machine, consumer article, or an improvement on such items. Source

If the USPTO grants a patent, the patent holder (known as a patentee) has the legal right to exclude others from using their inventions in the United States.

Patenting a certain process or invention does not require the patent holder to commercialize their own invention, it simply allows them to restrict others from making, using, or selling their invention.

Patent holders will be able to restrict others from using or selling their patents as long as the patent holders pays the maintenance fees to the USPTO. So long as the fees are paid, the patent protection will remain in effect until the patent term ends. Once a patent expires, it becomes in the public domain, meaning that anyone can use the patent and profit from its use without the patent owner's permission.

When do Patents Expire?

Patents expire 20 years from the earliest effective U.S filing date (date that you first filed the patent). So the amount of time that your patent is pending in the USPTO (U.S Patent & Trademark Office) is subtracted from from the the 20 years that you can enforce your patent for.

Here is a quick example of when patents expire. John files his patent on January 1, 2000 and the patent is pending and is not issued until January 1, 2002.

  • John's patent was pending for 2 years
  • During the 2 years while the patent was pending, John could not have enforced his patent by suing anyone for patent infringement because there is no patent yet in existence to base the lawsuit on
  • John's patent will expire 20 years from the January 1st filing date
  • The application pendency period from January 1st, 2000 to January 1st, 2002 (2 years) is subtracted from 20 year patent term. So, the patent term is in reality 18 years
  • Once the patent is issued, the patent holder can enforce his patent by suing anyone who infringes upon his patent

We hope this section was able to answer how long patent protections lasts.

Types of Patents | Know Your Patent

U.S Law provides protection for different kinds of patents. Different types of patents have different durations. Approximately 90% of patents in the United States are utility patents. Utility patents last for 20 years from the earliest filing date. Design patents, on the other hand, are only valid for 15 years from the date the USPTO issues or grants the patent.

Utility patents protect inventions, processes, and machines. Utility patents are the most common type of patent issued by the patent office, accounting for more than 90% of all filed for patents.

Utility patents typically claim and describe the functional aspects of an invention. They protect a variety of inventions that include consumer products, machinery, industrial parts, toys, and pharmaceutical drugs.

What is a Provisional Patent Application & How Does it Affect the Patent Term?

Some inventors choose to file provisional patent applications to get the earliest possible priority date for their invention. So, why do inventors rush to file provisional patent applications? They do so because the first to file a patent for an invention is able to claim invention priority. However, remember that provision patents only protect the date of an invention because they are not examined for patentability and do not become a patent unless the person seeking the patent files for a non-provisional patent within 12 months.

If you filed a provisional patent application before filing your utility patent application, your patent term starts on the earliest filing date, which is the date of your provisional patent application. So, you might be asking yourself what is a provisional patent application? Provisional patent applications are a cheaper way for an inventor to lock in a priority date prior to filing a regular, non-provisional patent application.

That said, provisional patent applications do not become patents. For a provisional patent application to become a patent, the inventors will have to file a nonprovisional patent application within 12 months of filing the provisional patent application with the patent office.

Some people use provisional patent applications because it gives them an extra year to perfect their invention, run experiments, find investors, or to perfect their prototype.

That said, this extra year comes at a cost because the patent term starts on your earliest filing date and by filing your provisional patent application, your patent term starts when you file your provisional application with the USPTO. So, if you're calculating how long your patent lasts, be sure that you're calculating from the correct filing date.

If you are looking to file a provisional patent, here is the provisional patent application form, you can find it here.

What Does Patent Pending Mean? | The Effect of Having a Patent Pending

Patent Pending is a legal designation that's given to inventions or processes once a patent application for the invention or process has been filed. The patent pending status remains until patent is issued or abandoned.

Having a patent pending comes with a short patent life. Your patent term starts from the earliest filing date, so it will go for 20 years from the date you file your provisional patent application or from the filing date of your patent, whichever is earlier. You first filing date is also known as your priority date.

If you've already filed your patent, just remember that you won't be able to enforce your patent until the patent offices issues you a patent for your invention.

If the patent office delays your patent for too long, you may be eligible to file a patent term extension to extend the patent term of your patent. Just note that to be eligible for such an extension, the patent office must be at fault for causing a substantial delay in processing your patent.

Quick Summary of Patent Terms by Patent Type

  • Utility Patents filed on or after June 8th, 1995 last for 20 years from the application filing date
  • Utility Patents filed before June 8th, 1995 last 17 years from the issue date or 20 years from the application filing date (whichever is longer)
  • Design Patents last 20 years from the application filing date
  • Plant Patents last 20 years from the application filing date
  • Design Patents filed on or after May 13, 2015 last 15 years from the date the patent is issued/granted

Patent Term Extensions

The USPTO is experiencing a major backlog of pending patent applications. As a result of this backlog, the patent office is adjusting the patent term for periods longer than 20 years. What does this mean for you? If you've filed a patent and your patent took too long to issue, the patent office may grant you an extension to compensate for the time lost between when you filed your patent application and when it was actually issued.

Keep Your Invention Confidential

Many people in the United States are still interested in inventing new things. Many entrepreneurs want to invent something and make tons of money from their invention. The U.S patent system offers them protection that can increase the market value of their patented invention.

That said, be careful with whom you share your invention because there are a lot of start-ups and people who prey on entrepreneurs who have novel inventions that may be worth a lot of money. So, if you're an inventor you are within your rights to be as cautious as possible when looking for a company to prototype or manufacture your invention. The last thing you want is someone copying your idea and selling it before you can even bring it to market.

There are a lot of inventors who acquire patents and despise the idea of taking their invention or prototype a shady invention factory they found on the web. Many "Invention Development" companies are either scams on aggressive marketers that try to get you to pay them upfront for their services and to give them a huge share of your sales. Be aware of such companies and scams. The best thing you can do is look for a reputable attorney who is well-suited to help you market your patent. The USPTO has a resource page dedicated to helping you avoid the most common invention promotion scams. Source

If you have invention that is unique and has commercial viability, contact a patent attorney who can evaluate your invention and protect your rights.

Patent Length Criticisms

We have heard many people who are not familiar with the U.S Patent System criticize patents as lasting too long. We disagree with system and we'll tell you why. When everything is considered, patents only last for a few fleeting moment.

Many lawyers throw out the phrase that patents last for 20 years and while that is partially true, there is a lot of time lost from the moment you file your patent application to the time when the patent is actually issued. In some cases, patents take several years to issue, so in reality you're getting less than 20 years of protection. This is so because you don't get exclusive rights in your patent until its issued. For example, TiVos patent was issued after more than 10 years passed after its filing. We are not saying that every patent will experience this length of delay, just keep in mind that patent holders lose a portion of their patent term while they're waiting for their patent to issue.

Not only do patents not last long enough, if you have a utility patent and you miss a maintenance payment, you could lose your patent and it will become part of the public domain where anyone can use it and make money from it. Here are some of the payment that you must make to ensure that your patent is good for its entire patent term:

  • First Maintenance Payment - Fee/$1,600 - Small Entity/$800 - Micro Entity/$400
  • Second Maintenance Payment - Fee/$3,600 - Small Entity/$1,800 - Micro Entity/$900
  • Third Maintenance Payment - Fee/$7,400 - Small Entity/$3,700 - Micro Entity/$1,850


Patent Length Conclusion

We hope you found this article on patent length helpful. We covered how long the different types of patents last. We covered how long do utility patents last as well as how long do design patents last. We briefly touched on plant patent lengths. If you have any questions about how long do patents last, please feel free to leave it in the comments section below and we will do our best to answer your patent length related question.