how-long-are-patents-good-for

How Long Are Patents Good For in the US?

How long a patent is good for depends on the type of patent that an inventor has obtained from the USPTO. Utility patents, design patents, and plant patents are good for different periods of time that we will discuss below. We will also discuss why inventors go through the difficult and costly process of patenting their inventions and products.

How Long Are Patents Good For in the US?

To determine how long a patent is good for in the United States, you need to know the type of patent you're dealing with because different types of patents last for different periods of time.

We will now discuss how long each of the different patents that the USPTO offers are good for.

1) How Long Are Utility Patents Good For?

Utility patents are good for 20 years from the date that an inventor files a (regular) nonprovisional patent application with the USPTO.

If an inventor files a provisional patent application and subsequently files a nonprovisional patent application, the 20-year patent term begins at the time the nonprovisional application is filed.

That said, utility patent applications filed before June 8th, 1995 last for 20 years from the filing date of the patent application or 17 years from the issue date of the patent, whichever is longer.

2) How Long Are Design Patents Good For?

Design patents are good for 15 years from the date the USPTO issues or grants a design patent application.

Note: Design patent issued from design patent applications filed before May 13, 2015, last for 14 years from the date the patent office granted the design patent application.

3) How Long are Plant Patents Good For?

Plant patents are good for 20 years from the date an inventor files a nonprovisional patent application to patent his new, asexually reproduced plant species.

Once a plant patent expires, anyone can use, make, or sell the patented species without having to obtain the patent holder's express permission to do so.

4) How Long Are Patents Good For After Filing a Provisional Patent?

Provisional patents are good for 12 months from the date that they are filed with the USPTO.

If an inventor files a utility patent application and obtains a utility patent after filing a nonprovisional patent application, the utility patent resulting from a previously filed provisional application lasts 20 years from the date an inventor files a nonprovisional patent application that relates back to an earlier-filed provisional application.

On the other hand, if an inventor converts a provisional patent application instead of filing a nonprovisional application that relates back to a provisional application, the filing date to determine how long a utility patent is good for is the filing date of the provisional patent application and not the date of the conversion.

Inventors rarely choose to convert a provisional application into a nonprovisional application, but if you do encounter this situation, you now know to look at the date of the provisional application to measure the 20-year patent term.

Patent Lifecycle in the US

  • Having the idea for an invention

  • Figuring out how to make the invention and how it works

  • Documenting your invention

  • Preparing and filing a provisional patent application

  • Preparing and filing a regular, nonprovisional patent application within 12 months of filing your provisional application

  • Prosecuting your patent

  • Patent Grant

  • Patent Expiration

Why is the Patent Term Important?

The patent term or how long a patent is good for is important because while a patent is in effect (patent term has not expired), an inventor can stop others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented invention to the United States.

Said differently, no one can use, make, sell, or import the patented invention to the United States without first obtaining the patent holder's express permission.

This allows an inventor to control who uses, makes, and sells the patented invention or product.

Since an inventor is able to control who uses or sells his invention, he can either sell his invention to a third party or he can license its use to others in exchange for an agreed-upon fee or royalty.

Can Patents Be Renewed After They Expire?

Generally, patents cannot be renewed once they expire. That said, to determine whether a patent can be renewed after it expires, you must ask: why did the patent expire?

If the patent expired because the patent term has ended, it cannot be renewed. For example, if you're looking at a utility patent that has lived out its 20-year patent life and it has expired, such a patent cannot be renewed.

The same applies to design patents. If you're looking at a design patent that has been granted for 15+ years, then it has expired and such a patent cannot be renewed after its expiration.

However, utility patents require the payment of maintenance fees to keep them in their grant state. If a utility patent expires for nonpayment of maintenance fees, such a patent can be renewed (for a hefty fee) and will last for the remainder of the patent term.

So, if you want to renew your patent and you know that you can't but it has permanently expired, you should consider modifying the original invention and patenting the improvements.

That said, the improvements you make must comply with the requirements of patenting an invention for you to obtain an improvement patent.

Why Do Inventors Go Through the Trouble of Obtaining Patents?

If you've every patented an invention or a product, then you probably know that obtaining a patent is a long, complicated, and costly process. So, why do inventors go through the trouble of patenting their invention(s)?

Inventors patent their inventions because US Patent Law allows them to control who uses, makes, sells, or imports their invention to the United States.

As a patent holder, an inventor can stop others from using, making, or selling the patented invention or product without the patent holder's express permission.

These rights allow inventors to profit from patenting their invention because they have the exclusive right to sell the patented product and license its use to others.

If the product has a market, an inventor could become the only person offering the product for sale without having to worry about competitors copying the product and selling their own version of it.

This is so because utility patent protect the function of a product. Since they protect the function, even if a patent holder's competitors were to make a product that looks totally different but works the same way, the patent holder will be able to stop others from making and selling a competing product that works the same way even though it looks different.

Also, many inventors choose to license the use of their invention or technology to third parties in exchange for an agreed-upon royalty or fee, allowing them to profit from their invention without having to spend tons of money marketing it and selling it.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Patent?

Now that we know how long a patent is good for, how long does it actually take applicants to get a patent?

According to data that we obtained from the USPTO, it takes applicants 24 months to get a utility patent and 20 months to get a design patent.

That said, there are ways to expedite your patent application, be it a utility patent application or a design patent application.

Utility patent applications can be expedited through Track One, which is a service offered by the USPTO for an additional fee. Track one promises to get applicants a decision on their application within 12 months, however, there are some reports of decisions being made in as little as 6 months.

Design patent applications can also be expedited through Rocket Docket, which is a service that the USPTO also offered for an additional fee. Although Rocket Docket promises to give applicants a decision within 12 months of filing a patent application, some inventors report obtaining a patent on their design in as little as 4 months.

So, if you have an invention or product that you want to patent as quickly as possible, there are some options that you can take to do so.

Different Types of Patents (Which One is Right For You?)

Utility Patent

A utility patent protects the functional aspects of an invention. Said differently, it protects how an invention works and how it achieves the desired result.

For example, if you wanted to patent a new type of nail clippers, you would want to obtain a utility patent to protect how it clips nails.

Utility patents are the most valuable patent that you can obtain because they offer broad protection.

Design Patent

A design patent protects the aesthetics of an invention. Said differently, design patents protect how your invention looks. This type of patent is different from a utility patent that protects how your invention looks.

Design patents aren't as strong as utility patents because competitors can design around your product, making it look different and they wouldn't be liable for design patent infringement.

This is where utility patents come in handy. If you have a utility patent and a design patent protecting your invention, even if your competitors where to make a product that looks totally different from yours but works the same way, you will be able to stop your competitors from making the invention because utility patents protect how the invention works without regards to how it actually looks or appears.

Plant Patent

A plant patent is a special patent that is granted to inventors who produce new plant species by asexual reproduction. Said differently, to obtain a plant patent, an inventor must have a new type of plant species that he can reproduce through means such as rooting, grafting, or budding.

If an inventor is able to patent his new plant species, he will be allowed to stop others from using, making, and selling the patented plant species for a limited period of time of 20 years.

Keeping Your Invention Secret Until You Patent It

Inventors are often times excited about their invention and it's all they want to talk about. However, we are here to tell you not to talk about your invention until you've actually patented it. There are some good reasons for doing so.

In the United States, the USPTO requires that an invention be novel for an inventor to be able to patent it. For an invention to be new, it must not have been publicly disclosed prior to filing a patent application with the patent office.

The USPTO does offer a 12 month grace period to inventors. This grace period allows inventors to file a patent application within 12 months of publicly disclosing or offering an invention or product for sale.

If an inventor does not file a patent application within the 12 month grace period, an inventor will be prohibited from patenting his invention. As such, it is important to keep your invention secret until you are ready to file a patent application with the patent office.

That said, don't keep your invention secret for too long because the United States has a first to file rule that awards patents to the party that first files a patent application with the USPTO.

We will illustrate the first to file rule.

If you invent a water pump and inventor B invents the same water pump 2 years later but files a utility patent application before you do. Inventor B will be awarded a patent and you won't be able to patent your invention even though you invented it first. This is so because inventor B filed a patent application before you did.

As such, if you have an invention you are unsure about patenting it, contact an experienced patent attorney in your jurisdiction and ask them about how you should proceed with your own case.

If you need to share your invention with third parties to work on it, make sure to have the parties that you are dealing with sign a confidentiality agreement.

Although a confidentiality agreement does not guarantee that the party will not disclose your invention, it does give you some recourse against a party that does disclose your invention.

Most times, a confidentiality agreement is enough to keep third parties from disclosing your invention.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Do patents expire?

Yes, patents do expire. Patents do not last forever. In this US, utility patents last for 20 years, design patents last for 15 years, and plant patents last for 20 years. This article covers how long a patent is valid for in much detail.

2) What happens to a patent after it expires?

After a patent expires, the invention falls into the public domain. Essentially, this means that anyone can use, make, or sell the once patented invention without having to obtain the express permission of the previous patent holder. That said, you should contact your attorney prior to using an invention that was once patented to ensure that no other laws protect your use of the invention.

3) Can you renew an expired patent?

Once a patent expires because the patent term has ended, you cannot renew an expired patent. However, if you're dealing with a utility patent that has expired for nonpayment of maintenance fees, you may be able to renew the patent by reinstating it after paying the past due maintenance fees on the patent.

4) When is a patent effective?

A patent only becomes effective after the USPTO grants a patent application. Prior to the patent office granting a patent application, an inventor cannot stop others from using, making, or selling the patented invention. Once the patent office grants an application, then and only then does a patent holder gain the right to control who uses, makes, or sells his invention without his permission.


how long is a design patent good for

How Long is a Design Patent Good For?

Whether you have a design that you want to patent or you're just curious about knowing how long a design patent is good for, you've come to the right place. The patent office allows inventors of new designs to protect those designs by obtaining a limited-time monopoly over their designs. So, how long does a design patent last for? We will answer this question below.

How Long is a Design Patent Good For?

According to the USPTO, a design patent that is filed on or after May 13th, 2015 is good for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application. A design patent that was filed before May 13th, 2015 lasts for 14 years from the date the patent office granted the design patent application.

A design patent allows design patent holders to stop others from using, making, selling, and importing a product or article that bears the patent holder's patented design for a limited period of time (15 years) without the patent holder's express permission.

While the patent holder has an active and valid patent, he may be able to sell his patented design without having to compete with others who will use his design because he can stop anyone else from copying and selling his design.

For someone who has a well-known design that attracts customers, having a design patent gives him the ability to control the market and be the only one who's offering an article bearing the patented design, making design patents an important tool for exploiting one's design for profit.

If anyone else uses the patent holder's patented design, the patent holder can bring a lawsuit against them for design patent infringement. If successful, the patent holder will be able to obtain an injunction to stop his competitors from using design. Also, a patent holder may obtain monetary damages he sustained as a result of the unlawful use of his design.

Patent Rebel Hint: An inventor cannot stop others from using his design patent while his design patent application is pending at the patent office. An inventor can only enforce his rights under patent law after the patent office grants his patent application. Once the patent office grants a design patent application, then and only then can a design patent holder begin to restrict others from using, making, and selling his patented design.

Why is filing a design patent application as quickly as possible important?

Filing a design patent application with the USPTO as quickly as possible is very important in the United States because the U.S has a first to file rule that awards a design patent to the first inventor who files a design patent application with the patent office.

For example, if you invent a new design and someone else invents the same design a year later and files a design patent application with the patent office before you do, he will be granted a design patent and you will not be able to patent the design even though you invented it first.

As such, if you have a design that's new and unique, you should file a patent application with the patent office as quickly as possible so that you will be able to obtain an early filing date for your design to prevent someone else from patenting it before you do.

How many designs can you patent?

You can patent an unlimited amount of designs, however, you can only patent one design per design patent application. For example, if you have more than one design that you want to patent, you will have to patent each design using a separate design patent application.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Design Patent?

According to the USPTO, it currently takes 20 months for an inventor to obtain a design patent. The 20 month period is measured from the moment an inventor files a design patent application and the date the patent office makes a decision on the application.

That said, waiting 20 months to patent a design often defeats the purpose of protecting a design since designs often go out of style very quickly. So, can you get a design patent quicker?

Yes, you can patent a design more quickly by using Rocket Docket. Rocket Docket is a service offered by the USPTO that allows inventors of new designs to expedite their design patent application by filing a request to expedite along with payment of a fee.

Rocket Docket promises to patent a design within less than 12 months, however, inventors have reported being able to patent their designs within less than 6 months and in some circumstances in just about 4 months. So, if you have a design that you want to patent, you should ask your attorney about the option to expedite your design patent application using Rocket Docket.

How Long is a Design Patent Valid For?

Design patents that result from design patent applications filed for on or after May 13th, 2015, are valid for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application.

On the other hand, design patents resulting from design patent applications that were filed before May 13th, 2015, are valid for 14 years from the date the patent office granted a design patent application.

Unlike utility patents, design patents do not require the patent holder to make periodic maintenance fees to keep the patented as granted. Once the patent office grants a design patent application, a design patent lasts until it expires.

What Happens When a Design Patent Expires?

When a design patent expires, the design falls into the public domain, meaning that anyone can use the patented design without having to obtain the design patent's holder's express permission.

This is so because once a design patent expires, the patent holder no longer has rights under patent law to stop others from using, making, and selling the patented design, allowing the public to use the patented design without violating patent law.

Patent Rebel Note: When a patent on a design expires, even though you can use the patented design without violating patent law, you should make sure to check if a different form of IP protection protects the design before using it. If, for example, copyright protection exists on the design, you might violate it if you use the once patented design without obtaining the permission of the copyright holder.

Can a Design be Patented?

Yes, a design can be patented so long as the design is new, unique, and nonobvious. To patent a design the design must have never been patented for and the design must not have been publicly disclosed more than 12 months before an applicant files a design patent application.

To patent a design, an inventor must prepare a design patent application along with several drawings of the design (invention) to be patented. After preparing a design patent application, an inventor must file the design patent application with the USPTO and pay the patenting fees to the patent office.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) How Long is a Patent Valid For?

Design patents in the US last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application. On the other hand, utility patents last for 20 years from the date an applicant files a nonprovisional patent application with the patent office.

2) How do you know when a design patent expires?

You can know when a design patent expires by looking at the date the patent office granted a design patent application. You can find the grant date on a design patent, it's on the document itself and you can find a design patent by searching the USPTO patent database or using a patent search database such as Google Patents.

Once you find the grant date of a design patent application, you should do the following: (1) if the design patent was filed before May 13th, 2015, you should add 14 years to the grant date and this will give you the expiration date. If the design patent application was filed on or after May 13th, 2015, add 15 years to the grant date and this will give you the expiration date of a design patent.

3) What is the difference between a design and utility patent?

A design patent protects the appearance of an invention or article, whereas a utility patent protects how an invention works or how it's used (i.e., the function of an invention). Utility patents and design patents are very different, so if you have an invention that you want to protect, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the differences between the two.

4) Can you get both a design and utility patent on an invention?

Yes, you can get both a design and utility patent on an invention but the invention must be both functional and have a unique design. The design patent would protect the appearance of the invention or how it looks and the utility patent would protect the function of an invention or how the invention looks. To get both a design and utility patent an inventor will have to file both a utility patent application and a design patent application because a single application is not available to get both a utility and design patent.

5) Can a design patent last forever?

A design patent does can never last forever because it is a limited monopoly that patent law specifies only lasts for 15 years, as such every design patent will expire and once a design patent expires, the same design can never be patented again. However, if you have a unique design and the design patent on it expired, you can make improvements to the design so that you make just enough changes so as to create a new design that can be patented again. This is one way you can sort of extend your rights over the design.


How to expedite a patent application?

How to Expedite a Patent Application?

Whether you've just finished working on your invention or you're just curious about how to expedite your patent application, you've come to the right place. The patent office offers applicants for both utility patents and design patents the ability to expedite their patent applications. We will discuss how to expedite a utility patent application and a design patent application below.

Can You Expedite a Patent Application?

Yes, you can expedite your patent application. The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) offers applicants for utility patents, design patents, and plant patents the ability to expedite their patent applications. However, utility patent and design patents are expedited differently, we will show you how to expedite your patent application.

How to Expedite a Patent Application?

You can expedite your patent application by filing a request to expedite it. Utility patents and design patents are expedited differently. To expedite a utility patent, you can make a request to use the USPTO's Track One service. To expedite a design patent application, you can use what's known as Rocket Docket by filing a request to expedite your design patent application. By expediting your patent application, your application skips the long line of pending patent applications to the front of the line.

To use either of these services, an applicant typically has to make a request to expedite his patent application. For Track One services for regular (nonprovisional) utility patent application, an applicant must request to use Track One and the same goes for Rocket Docket for design patents.

How to Expedite a Utility Patent using Track One?

Track One promises applicants to either grant or deny a utility patent application with 12 months of an applicant being granted Track One status. That said, even though Track One promises to have a final disposition within 12 months, it currently only takes them 6 months to grant or deny a patent application.

So, if you have an invention that you want to patent as quickly as possible, it's best to request expedited examination under Track One. If your request is granted, you will likely be able to patent your invention within 6 months of being granted Track One status.

That said, Track One isn't free, an applicant must pay a fee to have his utility patent expedited. For micro-entities, the fee is $1,000, for small entities, it's $2,000, and large entities have to pay $4,000. This fee must be paid in addition to the normal fees associated with filing a utility patent application.

To get track one, an applicant must file a request for expedited examination. It currently takes the patent office 50 days to accept an individual into its Track One Program.

How to Expedite a Design Patent Using Rocket Docket?

Rocket Docket is used by applicants for design patents to expedite their design patent application. To obtain expedited examination for a design patent application an applicant must file a request for expedited examination in addition to filing a design patent application.

The request for expedited examination can be made at the time an applicant files his design patent application. However, if an applicant decides after filing a design patent application that he wants to expedite, he may later make a request for expedited examination.

If an applicant's request to have his design patent application expedited is approved, his design patent application skips the line of non-expedited patent applications. The entire process of examining a design patent application is faster by using Rocket Docket.

Like Track One for utility patent applications, Rocket Docket is not free. An applicant has to pay a fee to expedite his design patent application. The fee for micro-entities is $225, small entities pay $450, and large entities must pay $900.

Note: The fee that must be paid is in addition to the normal fees associated with filing a design patent application. If the fees for expediting your patent application are not sent, your application will proceed as a regular design patent application.

How to Speed Up the Process to Patent Your Invention?

  1. Make sure your patent application is completed properly

    When preparing a patent application, you need to make sure that you've properly described to the patent examiner how to make your invention, as well as how to use it. If you don't have experience preparing and filing a patent application, you should hire an attorney to assist you with its preparation and filing. This is so because making even seemingly minor mistakes could get your application rejected, costing you more time and money to fix the mistakes.
  2. Expedite your patent application by either using Track One or Rocket Docket

    If you don't want to wait for 24+ months to have your utility patent application granted or 18+ months for your design patent, you can use the methods we explained above to expedite the processing of your patent application. Just remember that you'll need to pay additional fees to expedite your patent application.

  3. Rush to the patent office to file your patent application

    The United States has a first to file system that awards a patent to the first person who files a patent application for an invention and not the first person who invents it. As such, if you have an invention that you want to patent, you should file a patent application as soon as you can.
  4. Track the status of your patent application

    After filing your patent application with the trademark office, your application will be assigned a serial number. You should periodically check the status of your application to see if the patent office needs any additional information or amendments to your patent application. Responding quickly and on time will help the patent examiner process your patent application as quickly as possible.

How Long Do Patent Applications Take Without Being Expedited?

Utility Patents

If you do not expedite your patent application, the application process will take much longer. White Track One for utility patents promises a disposition on your patent application within 12 months, it often takes as little as 6 months to get your patent approved.

On the other hand, if you do not expedite a utility patent application, it takes 24 months on average to get your utility patent application approved. So, if you have an invention that you want to patent as quickly as possible, Track one is the best option to speed up your patent application.

Design Patents

If you do not expedite your design patent using Rocket Docket, it currently takes 21 months to get your design patent application approved. So, if you want to patent your design as quickly as possible, you may want to file a petition to expedite your design patent application at the same time you file your design patent application.

Applicants who have filed a request to expedite their design patent application have seen their designs patented in less than 6 months. So, if time is of the essence, expediting your design patent application is the way to go to speed up the patenting process.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a track one patent application

A track one patent application is a patent application that has been expedited using the USPTO's Track One service. Track One, often referred to as Track 1, is a service that promises to either grant or deny a patent application within 12 months. So, if you have an invention that you want to patent as quickly as possible, track one may the best option for you.

2) How long does a patent take to get approved?

Patent applications that have not been expedited take longer than those that have been expedited. For example, it takes the patent office 24+ months to approve a utility patent application and it takes them 20 months to approve a design patent application that has not been expedited. If you expedite a utility or design patent application, you should expect a disposition on your patent application within as little as 6 months.

3) How do you start the patenting process?

The patenting process is started by performing a prior art search to determine whether anyone has patented the invention that you want to patent. If your patent search turns up an invention that is similar to yours, the patent office will not allow you to patent something that has already been patented or something that has been publicly disclosed.

After you're finished conducting a prior art search, you need to prepare your patent application and file it with the patent office. At the time you file your patent application, you need to pay the filing fees and associated patenting fees.

Once you've filed your patent application, you need to communicate with the patent office and make any required amendments or changes to your patent application. If your invention satisfies the patenting requirement, the patent office will grant your patent application.

4) How to Get a Patent Faster?

As we mentioned previously, you can get a utility patent faster by requesting to use Track One to expedite your utility patent application or your plant patent application. If you want to expedite a design patent application, you can do so by requesting to expedite it using Rocket Docket.


can you extend a patent?

Can You Extend a Patent?

The USPTO offers three different types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. If you've successfully patent your invention or design, you might be wondering how to extend the term of your patent? We will answer this below.

Utility patents and plant patents granted by the patent office in the United States last for 20 years from the filing date of your patent application. Design patents, on the other hand, last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants the patent.

Once the patent term expires, the inventor loses the right to restrict others from using, making, and selling the patented invention and the invention falls into the public domain, meaning that anyone can use or sell the invention without the express permission of the patent holder. So, can any of these patents be extended beyond their expiration date?

Can You Extend a Patent?

Generally, patents cannot be extended beyond the statutory patent term. However, the government does make some rare exceptions, such as those made for pharmaceuticals because of the large amount of time it takes the government to test drugs before granting the inventor a patent. So, unless you're attempting to extend the life a pharmaceutical drug, you're unlikely going to succeed in extending the term of your patent.

Like we previously mentioned, utility patents last for 20 years from the moment an applicant files his utility patent application. So, logically, applicants want the patent office to approve their patent application as quickly as possible. But, the patent office has more than 500,000 pending patent applications and so the process takes time.

On average, it takes the patent office 24 months to approve a patent application. Consequently, applicants often believe that the patent office should compensate them for the 24 months that it took the office to approve their patent. However, this is not how the patent office works.

So long as a substantial and undue delay has not been caused, the patent office will not extend the term of a patent, especially if it took the patent office less than three years to approve the patent application.

In some rare circumstances, the patent office extends the patent term fir applications that were pending for more than three years. The extensions are often issued in circumstances where the delay is caused by more than one inventor seeking to obtain a patent on the same invention.

That said, the patent office does not offer these extensions freely. If you want the patent term extended, you'll need to apply for a patent term adjustment (PTA) and you should keep in mind that the patent office rarely grants them.

Here are some circumstances where the patent office may grant you a patent term adjustment (PTA):

  • The patent office may issue a PTA if the patent office does not send out its first office action with 14 months of an applicant filing his patent application with the patent office
  • The patent office may grant a PTA if the time it takes the patent office to prosecute and grant a patent application exceeds 3 years. The 3 year period is calculated from the date an applicant files his patent application with the patent office and the date on which the patent office grants the patent application. If this period exceeds 3 years, the patent office will make a patent term adjustment.

Patent Term

In the United States and elsewhere, an inventor who patents his invention is given a monopoly over his invention for a limited period of time (20 years for utility patents and 15 years for design patents). This monopoly allows inventors to recoup the costs associated with creating their invention, as well as an opportunity to profit from their hard work. Naturally, inventors try to extend the period of time to profit from their invention.

While generally speaking, inventors are not permitted to extend the term of their patent unless the delay in obtaining a patent is significant and was caused by the patent office. Patent applicants are most successful in extending the patent term in the pharmaceutical industry where a patent for pharmaceuticals could remain pending for more than 7 years.

Because of the significant delays in patenting pharmaceuticals, courts are more lenient and allow patent term extensions to allow drug manufacturers to recoup the costs associated with researching and developing life-saving drugs.

So, should the government extend the patent term to award inventors? Some argue that the patent term should be extended to reward inventors who often disclose inventions that are beneficial to society.

This notion is based on the fact that inventors will disclose their inventions, such as new medications, earlier if they know that the government will reward them with the ability to exploit and profit from their invention for a longer period of time.

Depending on how you ask, you will get a different answer to this question. Some will say that extending the patent term is bad because it allows inventors to charge high prices for the use of their invention. On the other hand, others argue that extending the patent term will add further encouragement for inventors to make new inventions, machines, drugs that will further improve the health and wellbeing of society.

Improvement Patent

Inventors can patent improvements that they make to existing inventions. This allows inventors to restrict others from using the improved version of the original patented invention. However, you should know that sometimes the inventor or applicant for the improved invention will need a license from the original inventor to use the improved invention. This is so because improvement patents build upon and improve an already existing, patented invention.

That said, inventors often make improvements that were not obvious can be used to extend the life of a patent that's about to expire. Because the invention as improved will be granted a new patent term, allowing the inventor to restrict others from using, making, and selling the improved invention.

One way to continue profiting from your invention is to improve upon it. This is especially important if you already patented a commercially successful invention. Think about how you can improve it in a way that will make your customers want to buy the improved form of your invention as opposed to the older version.

If an inventor can figure this out, he will be able to continue to profit from his invention in its modified form. This will not only allow you to continue to profit but to stay ahead of your competition.

Patent Expiration

At the end of the patent term, patents expire and become part of the public domain. What does this mean for a patent holder? It means that he will no longer be able to restrict others from using, making, or selling the invention.

Others will be able to freely copy and sell the once patented invention without having to obtain the consent of the patent holder. In the pharmaceutical industry, this means that other companies will be able to produce generic brands of the drug and offer them to the public at a lower cost.

The inventor of a product will be able to continue to manufacture and sell the once patented product, but he should expect competition from others who may have made the same exact product. Basically, once a patent expires anyone can copy the invention and sell his own version even if it's an exact replica of the inventor's invention.

So, why does the law have an expiration date on patents? why not allow them to exist forever? The government has limited the amount of time that an inventor can benefit from his utility patent to 20 years because allowing them indefinitely would stifle competition.

Once patents expire, the technology that was once protected and available to a few people becomes widely adopted as prices typically drop and more people can manufacture the same invention and sell it to the public. Therefore, there is a good reason for granting temporary monopolies to inventors vs permanent ones.

Extending Your Patent

By now, you probably know that extending the term of your patent is a difficult task to do, especially if the delay was not caused by the patent office. Inventors have a few options to continue to benefit and profit from their invention, such as patenting improvement to their inventions. We also touched on the benefits and drawbacks of extending the patent term. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


why are inventions or important to inventors?

Why Are Patents Important to Inventors?

Why Are Patents Important to Inventors?

Patents are intellectual property rights granted to inventors who invent new inventions, machines, processes, or designs. Patents allow inventors to exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention within the United States for a limited period of time.

Patents are important because they help inventors protect their inventions, products, or designs from being copied and stolen by others for a limited period of time, usually for fifteen or twenty years, depending on the type of patent.

That said, patents only protect an inventor's invention in the country issuing the patent. For example, if an inventor patents his invention in the United States, the inventor will only be able to restrict others from making, using, selling, and offering the invention for sale within the United States. If an inventor wants protection in a different country, such as Canada, the inventor will have to protect his invention in Canada, under Canadian law.

More Reasons Patents Are Important to Inventors

We will now dive into some additional reasons as to why patents are valuable to inventors.

Protection From Theft

One of the main reasons that inventors patent their inventions or designs is to protect their idea from theft. Inventors often spend a lot of time and money working on their invention, only to have a third party steal and copy the hard work the inventor has performed.

Patents protect inventors' inventions by allowing them to sue and take legal action against any party that makes, sells, or imports to the united states the inventor's invention without the inventor's express permission.

Doing Business

Inventors protect their inventions because if they don't, their competitors may patent the product before them and then prohibit them from selling the product. So, inventors choose to protect their products with patents to continue selling the patented product without having to worry about third parties prohibiting them from doing so.

If a third party were to patent a product before the inventor patents it, not only will others compete with the inventor, the inventor could lose his right to compete at all. If this happens, the inventor loses any time and money he invested in creating his invention. This is not an outcome that inventors want, so they patent their product, allowing them to continue to compete with others.

Weed Out the Competition

When inventors patent their ideas and inventions, they begin to build a patent portfolio. This patent portfolio allows them to protect the products they're offering, limiting the ability of competitors to sell similar products. By limiting the ability of competitors to sell products that are similar to the inventor's products, the inventor faces less competition in his niche, allowing him to become the sole seller of the product and attain a higher return on his investment.

Encourages them to Innovate

Patents encourage inventors to invent because it allows them to enjoy a monopoly over their invention for a limited period of time. For utility patents, inventors will be able to restrict others from making or selling their invention for 20 years from the filing date of their utility patent application. For design patents, it's 15 years from the grant date of their patent application.

During the patent term, many inventors will be able to make and sell their products without having to worry about competition. This allows them to recoup their investment and make profits from making and selling the patented product or design.

Licensing Their Invention to Others

Patents are important to inventors because they allow inventors to license their invention to others in exchange for an agreed-upon fee or royalty. For inventors, licensing fees can be a great source of revenue, especially in circumstances where the inventor does not have the money or resources to produce, market and sell the invention. In the United States, there are companies that exist solely to patent technology and inventions, and to license their tech to other companies to use. Without patents to protect an inventor's intellectual property, it would be substantially much more difficult to license patented inventions.

When an inventor licenses his patented product, he can choose the geographic scope of the patent, the time for which the license will last, and the amount of royalty that he will receive. For example, an inventor can choose to license his patented product for use only in California. The licensee would then only be allowed to use the patented product only in California.

Selling Their Invention

The same way that inventors patent their inventions to license them, they can protect their invention with a patent and then sell the patented invention or technology to a third party. Selling a patent is great for inventors who like making new things but don't want to sit on their invention and guard it for the next 20 years. Depending on how valuable the patent is, an inventor could sell his invention for a considerable amount of profit.

Added Value

Patents are beneficial for inventors because they add value to the inventor and help brand a company as an innovator in the field of the patented invention. Also, the more patents an inventor has, the more people perceive the inventor as a valuable business partner. The more patents a company has, the more valuable it becomes in the eyes of investors and potential purchasers. Having patented products gives investors and partners a feeling of security since you're protecting their intellectual property.

Higher Profit Margins

Patent law in the United States gives inventors the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and offering for sale their invention. Assuming there is market demand for the patented product, inventors can charge higher prices for the patented product since there will be less of a supply of the product.

Increase in Negotiating Power

If an inventor knows that he may be selling his business or technology, having a patent over the products and technology used in his business will help increase his negotiating power. This couldn't be truer if the patents are of considerable value to the party seeking to purchase the business or its technology.

How Long Does it Take an Inventor to Patent his Invention?

According to the USPTO, inventor seeking to protect their invention, process, or machine should expect to wait 24.2 months for the patent office to either grant or reject their utility patent application. If an inventor is seeking to protect a design, an inventor should expect to wait 20.4 months for the patent office to either grant or reject his design patent application.

How Much Does it Cost For an Inventor to Patent his Invention?

Costs associated with patenting an invention vary depending on whether the inventor was to prepare and file his patent application on his own or wants the assistance of an attorney.

The USPTO charges micro-entities $430 in application filing fees, patent search fees, and patent examination fees. If an inventor requires the assistance of an attorney, attorneys typically charge $5,000 to $15,000 to prepare and file a utility patent application. Of course, the cost depends on the complexity of the invention.

If you an inventor has a simple, straightforward invention that he wants to patent, he should expect to pay $8,000 to obtain a utility patent. If the USPTO rejects or requires modification of the utility patent application, this typically costs the inventor more money as the attorney will have to perform more work.

Limitations on Patents

It's important to note that inventors often face limitations on what they can patent with the USPTO. For example, inventors have one year to file a patent application after publicly disclosing, selling, or offering to sell the patented invention. After a year has passed, inventors are prohibited from filing a patent for their invention even if the inventor never actually sold the invention.

That said, although the U.S offers a one year grace period to inventors to file their application after disclosure, other countries are not so courteous. Some countries do not allow inventors to protect inventions that have been publicly disclosed or offered for sale to the public. So, if an inventor has an invention they want to protect in the U.S and abroad, they should consider keeping the invention confidential until they have obtained the required protection.

Importance of Patents to Inventors

This article covered the various reasons why patents are important to inventors. As we mentioned previously, patents offer inventors intellectual property rights on their inventions for limited periods of time. These rights are valuable and protect inventors from parties that want to steal or copy their inventions. Patents are valuable because inventors can license and sell their patented product to other parties. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Just remember that intellectual property rights, such as patents are becoming more and more important in today's day an age, making it more important than ever for inventors to protect their inventions, machines, and process with patents.


How long do plant patents last?

How Long Does a Plant Patent Last?

What is a Plant Patent?

Plant patents are granted by the USPTO to an inventor who invents or discovers a new, asexually reproduced plant. So, what does asexually reproduced mean? Asexually reproduced means that the plants to be patented are not reproduced through regular, sexual reproduction. Plants can be asexually reproduced through methods, such as budding and propagation.

No many countries allow the patenting of newly invented or discovered plants, but the U.S does grant inventors of new, asexually produced plants, patents. So, how long does a plant patent last?

How Long Do Plant Patents Last?

According to the USPTO, plant patent lasts for 20 years from the filing date (also known as the priority date) of a plant patent application. If an inventor is successful in obtaining a plant patent, he will be able to stop others from reproducing the plant, selling it, and offering it for sale through the United States. An inventor will also be able to stop others from importing the plant or any parts of the patented plant into the United States.

So, to know how long a plant patent lasts, you have to know the filing date of the plant patent application. Once you have the filing date of the plant patent application, add 20 years to that date and you'll get the patent term for that patent.

For example, if a plant patent application was filed on January 1, 2000, you should add 20 years to that date to find the patent term for the patented plant. Adding 20 years, you'll know that the patent is good until January 1, 2020.

Many people make the mistake of believing that a plant patent is good for 20 years from the date the plant patent is granted. Like we previously said, the clock on the patent term begins ticking at the time the plant patent application is filed and not when it is granted.

Requirements to Get a Plant Patent

According to the USPTO, to get a plant patent, an inventor must demonstrate the following:

  • The plant was invented or discovered in a cultivates state and was asexually reproduced,
  • The inventor who is named in the patent application is the person who actually invented or discovered the claimed plant and asexually reproduced it,
  • The plant has not been previously patented, publicly used, put on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the inventor filed his plant patent application,
  • The plant to be patented is different in at least one characteristic from known plants,
  • The plant to be patented would not have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the field of the plant at the time of filing the plant patent application.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Plant Patent?

According to USPTO Patent Data, it takes approximately 24.2 months for the patent office to grant or reject a plant patent application. Applicants for a plant patent should expect their first office action within 16.2 months of filing their plant patent application.

That said, some sources claim that plant patent application move quicker through the patent system because there are significantly fewer plant patent applications filed with the patent office than utility patent application.

To avoid any delays, make sure that your plant patent application is correctly prepared and clearly describes the plant you want to patent. This gives you the best chance of getting a plant patent as quickly as possible.

History of Plant Patents in the United States

The United States began issuing a patent for plants in 1930. According to Nolo, the USPTO issued the first plant patent to Henry Bosenbery for inventing the first ever-blooming rose.

The USPTO does not allow applicants for plant patents to patent plants that are discovered in the wild because they occur naturally in nature. However, plants discovered in a cultivated area (an area that is planted with crops that are cultivated) can be patented.

That said, for an inventor to be able to successfully get a patent, the inventor must have been able to asexually reproduce the plant. So what does asexual reproduction mean? Asexual reproduction means that the applicant was able to reproduce the plant by a means other than seeds, such as cutting or grafting the plant.

Grafting involves taking a portion of one plant and attaching it to a second plant. Asexual reproduction is required by the patent office because it demonstrates that the inventor can reproduce the plant to be patented.

Deadline For Filing a Plant Patent

If you have a new and unique species of plant that you want to patent, you must file your plant patent application within one year of publicly disclosing the plant, offering it for sale, or otherwise disclosing the plant to the public. If more than one year has passed since disclosing the plant, you will not be allowed to get a plant patent.

Example of a Plant Patent

Here is an example of a plant patent that we retrieved directly from the USPTO.

Plant Patent vs Utility Patent

Plant patents offering protection to applicants who have invented new, asexually reproduced plant species, while utility patents protect new inventions, machines, and processes.

Both plant patents and utility patents offering 20 years of protection, starting from the filing date of either a plant patent application or utility patent application.

Plant patents are significantly cheaper to obtain than utility patents, which can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000+, depending on the complexity of the invention being patented. Plant patents cost anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000, making them much cheaper to obtain than utility patents.

That said, although utility patents are much more expensive and harder to obtain than plant patents, utility patents offer broader and stronger protection than plant patents.

If a plant is protected by a utility patent, as opposed to a plant patent, the applicant will be able to restrict others from not only asexually reproducing his plant but also restrict them from sexual reproducing his plant.

According to Nolo, the USPTO has granted utility patents to protect man-made plants or elements of them. An inventor can protect a plant whether it is asexually reproduced or sexually reproduced. For an inventor to be able to obtain a utility patent to protect a new species of plant, the inventor will have to satisfy all of the statutory requirements for utility patents, such as having a patentable subject matter, novelty, utility, and nonobviousness.

Are Inventors Required to Pay Maintenance Fees for a Plant Patent?

No, an inventor does not have to pay maintenance fees for a plant patent. Only utility patent holders are required to pay maintenance fees to the patent office for their patents. Said differently, once your plant patent is approved, you do not have to pay any patent office fees to maintain it.

Do You Need an Attorney to File a Plant Patent Application?

No, inventors are not required to have an attorney to file a plant patent application. However, the USPTO does recommend that you hire an attorney to prepare and file your plant patent application.

In the event that you don't have the skills to prepare the plant patent application and you don't have the money to hire a patent attorney, you can hire a patent agent to prepare, file, and prosecute your plant patent application. Patent agents have passed the patent bar exam and are qualified to prepare your application and communicate on your behalf with the patent office.

Plant Patent Term

As we mentioned previously, plant patents last for 20 years from the date an inventor files his patent application with the USPTO. While applicants are not required to hire an attorney to prepare and file their patent application, hiring an attorney could save you some money in the long run. To ensure that the patent office approves your plant patent application, make sure that you file your application within the 1 year grace period offered by the patent office. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


What is a patent office action letter? We explain everything you need to know about patent office action letter, both final and non-final

What is a Patent Office Action?

The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) issues many different types of official letters regarding an applicant's patent application. An office action is one of the official letters sent by the patent office, so understanding what a patent office action is very important because a response is often required, ignoring it could cost you your patent. So, what is a patent office action? Read below to find out.

What is a Patent Office Action?

According to the USPTO, a patent office action is a written notification from the patent office issued by the patent examiner to patent applicants during the patent examination process. Office actions notify the applicant of the examiner's decision on patentability and discloses the grounds for a rejection, the claims affected, and pertinent prior art. A patent examiner can use one office action to object to one or more claims an applicant makes in his patent application to the patent office.

Said differently, office actions are made when a patent examiner or other patent office official communicates with a patent applicant regarding the status of their patent application. Many office actions include a patent examiner's opinion on the patentability of the applied-for invention or design.

Just remember that receiving an office action does not necessarily mean that your patent will be denied. Depending on the type of office action, applicants typically have an opportunity to respond to an office action.

What Does An Office Action Mean?

A patent office action is a document prepared by the patent examiner, stating whether the patent examiner has allowed, objected, or rejected an applicant's patent claims. Most of the time, the first office action that a patent applicant receives contains claim rejections. Said differently, an office action is a formal response from the patent office regarding an applicant's patent application.

Once an applicant receives claim rejections, he will be able to respond to the USPTO, arguing that the patent examiner's rejection of patent claims are unfounded and that the claims should be allowed to go forward.

Patent Examination Process

The patent examination process begins when an application files a patent application with the USPTO. The first step the patent office takes is to review the patent application to make sure that it is complete and that all of the fees have been paid.

An application is deemed to be complete if it includes a written description of the invention, makes at least one claim, and includes the necessary drawings. Once this preliminary review is completed, the patent application is forwarded to the relevant division for examination. Once at the correct unit, a patent examiner is assigned to the patent application.

At this point, the patent examiner checks to make sure that the claims comply with applicable laws and that the claims have patentable subject matter. The examiner will looks at whether the written description adequately describes the claimed invention and that the claims clearly define the invention.

Once the examiner has completed this part of the review, he conducts a prior art search to determine whether the invention is novel (new) and nonobvious (not obvious). After completing this examination, the patent examiner will either allow all claims or issue an office action. The patent examiner may issue an office action that rejects one or more claims of objects to them.

Typically, a non-final rejection office action will state the specific claims and statutory grounds upon which the patent examiner is objecting or rejecting the submitted claims.

Once a patent applicant receives a non-final rejection, the applicant is usually given 3 months to respond. The applicant can extend the three months by an additional 3 months by paying additional fees for such an extension.

At this point, applicants typically respond with arguments as to why the patent examiner is wrong and why their invention is eligible for a patent. Once the patent examiner receive the applicant's response, the patent examiner will evaluate the claims to determine whether the applicant has overcome the challenges or objections.

The patent examiner will make a determination as to whether the applicant has overcome the claims or whether the arguments were insufficient to overcome the objections. The patent examiner may then allow the claims or issue a final rejection.

How Do You Respond to an Office Action?

Responses to an office action vary from one office action to another. An office action can require different types of responses from the inventor. For example, an office action may address the drawings attached to your patent application, it may object to the format of your patent application, or it may reject your patent on grounds that the subject matter of your patent is not novel (new).

The USPTO requires that an applicant's invention be completely novel, meaning no one must have ever invented or published a similar invention. When determining novelty, an inventor must have performed a thorough patent search that revealed no inventions that are the same as their invention. So, how much time do you have to respond to an office action? We will discuss this below.

How Much Time Do you Have to Respond to an Office Action?

The USPTO usually gives applicants 2 to 3 months to respond to an office action, however, the amount of time you're given depends on the type of office action you receive. In some circumstances, you may only have a month to reply, so always check the reply-by date that's written on your letter. If for some reason the letter does not give you a time-frame to reply, you can always contact the USPTO and request clarification.

Most Common Reasons for Office Actions

Here are some of the most common reasons for patent office actions:

  • Obviousness. Rejection based on obviousness is the most common reason for rejection, making up 30% of all rejections by the patent office. 35 U.S.C 103 states that a claim may be rejected if the differences between the claims and prior art would have been obvious before the filing date of the patent application. Office actions based on obviousness are the most difficult to overcome because it's a subjective consideration that varies from one person to another.
  • Non-patentable Subject Matter. Many rejections by the patent office are made on the grounds that the subject matter to be patented is not eligible for patenting. Usually, to overcome this type of rejection, the applicant will have to amend his claims by showing a specific application for his invention.
  • Publication. The second most common reason for rejection is publication of the matter to be patented more than one year before filing the patent application. Rejection for publications accounts for more than 12% of all rejections by the patent office.
  • Failing to Distinctly Claim the Invention. 12% of rejections by the patent office are based on failure of the claims to distinctly claim the invention under 35 U.S.C 112(b)
  • Submitting Multiple Distinct Inventions. The patent office regularly rejects patent applications that have multiple, distinct inventions using one patent application. The patent office asks applicants to limit their patent application to cover only one invention. Applicants can respond to this type of office action by choosing to go forward with the claims that relate to one invention.

What is a Final Office Action?

A final office action is usually issued by a patent examiner when a patent applicant's response to a prior office action fails to address or overcome the issues that the patent examiner brought up in the prior office action.

The first office action that is issued by the patent examiner is almost always non-final, giving the applicant an opportunity to reply and convince the patent examiner that his invention is indeed patentable.

If the patent examiner issues a second office action, this typically means that the patent examiner did not find the applicant's arguments convincing enough to allow the patent to proceed. A final rejection does not give the applicant an opportunity to respond.

That said, this is not the end of the road for a patent applicant. The applicant has three options going forward. The applicant can either (1) accept the patent examiner's rejection and abandon the patent application entirely, (2) applicant can appeal the examiner's decision, or (3) the applicant can make a request for continued examination. Choosing any one of these option will cost an applicant more money, so an applicant should consider whether the patent is worth spending more money and time.

What is a Non-Final Office Action?

A non-final office action letter is a letter sent by the USPTO to an applicant by the patent examiner. The letter typically states that the patent examiner believes that the applicant has not complied with the USPTO's requirements or that the applicant has not submitted a patentable invention. It may also include rejection of some or all of an applicant claims.

A non-final office action letter allows an applicant or his attorney to respond to the patent examiner in writing, explaining why the patent examiner is wrong or by correcting any issues in the applicant's patent application. Just remember that non-final rejections are pretty common and receiving one does mean that your application will be denied by the patent office.

The goal of an applicant's response is to convince the examiner to allow the applicant's claim(s). You or your attorney's goal should be to come up with skilled arguments and amendments to point out why the examiner's decision is wrong and why your claims should go on.

That said, if you reply to a non-final office action and your reply does not resolve the issues in your application or does not address the patent examiner's concerns, the patent examiner may send you a final office action letter. If you get a final office action letter this will significantly limit your options to making the amendments the patent examiner requires, filing an appeal with the Board of Patent Appeals, or making a Request for Continued Examination (RCE), which will open the application for further examination by the patent office.

What is a Request for Continued Examination (RCE)?

A Request for Continued Examination (RCE) is often submitted by an applicant, requesting that the patent examiner give the application another shot by allowing more time for further examination of the applicant's response. An applicant should seek an RCE if he's planing to make amendments to the patent application that require the patent examiner to perform additional prior art search.

That said, if you submit a response to a Final Office Action Letter together with an RCE and the patent examiner does not allow an applicant's application, the patent examiner will likely issues another Non-final Office Action, giving the applicant a final opportunity to file a response.

Patent Appeal

If you've faced rejection after rejection by the patent examiner, your only option might be to go above the patent examiner by filing an ex parte patent appeal. Ex Parte patent appeal will be heard and decided by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

Patent Office Action

We hope that this article clarified most of the questions you had regarding patent office action, final office actions, and non-final office actions. If you have received any letter from the USPTO, you will find some good information that may help guide you on what to expect next. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


How to patent your idea

How to Patent an Idea?

If you've invented something new that will be very profitable once produced and sold, you may be wondering how to protect it from being copied by others. If that's you, you've come to right the spot. U.S Patent law offers inventors patents, which are intellectual property rights that prevent others from using, making, selling, or importing your idea or invention. So, how do you patent your idea to protect your intellectual property? We will answer this question below.

How do you Patent Your Idea?

In the United States, inventors can protect their inventions by applying for a patent. To patent your idea, you must have an invention that is patentable, no one must have patented it before you, and then you have to file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO). Patenting your idea or invention can be a complicated process that may require the assistance of a skilled patent attorney. We will give you the step-by-step process on how to get a patent in the coming sections.

What is a Patent?

A patent is a form of intellectual property right that the U.S Government grants to inventors to prohibit others from using, making, selling, or importing their inventions in the United States for a limited period of time. If someone copies your patented invention, you will be able to sue them for patent infringement.

For inventors, patents function as both a shield and a sword. As a sword, a patent allows you to make, use, and sell your invention while restricting others from doing the same. As a shield, it prevents others from taking an invention that's the same as yours, patenting it and then restricting you from using, making, or selling the invention.

This is so because the United States has "the first to file" rule for patents. Under this rule, the person who first files a patent application with the patent office has priority over anyone (even someone who invents the invention first) who files later. Priority means that the first to file can legally prohibit everyone else from taking advantage of the invention.

Types of Patents You Can Get

The USPTO currently offers four types of patents that you can apply for:

  • Utility Patent. A utility patent protects a product, process, machine, or improvement of one of them. Utility patents are the most common type of patent applied for, making up 93.6% of all patent applications.
  • Design Patent. A design patent protects the aesthetics, appearance or ornamental design of a functional item. Design patents make up 6.2% of all patent applications.
  • Plant Patent. A plant patent is a patent that protects newly invented or asexually reproduced a new and distinct type of plant. Plant patents make up less than 1% of all patent applications.
  • Software Patent. A software patent as the name implies, protect unique and new software. Software patents are hard to get and getting them typically requires the help of an experienced software patent attorney.

Why are Patents Important?

If you have a new invention, you might be wondering why are patents important? Patents are important for several reasons, the main reason being that they provides protection for your product or invention by allowing you to restrict others from using, making, or selling your invention without your express permission. Here are several reasons why you should protect your invention with a patent:

  • Protection. The main reason most people patent their invention or process is to restrict others from using, making, or selling their invention without their express permission to do so. Just remember that you can't sue anyone for patent infringement unless the USPTO has granted or issued your patent.
  • Priority. Patenting an invention before anyone else patents it gives the patent holder priority over others who seek to patent the same invention after the patent holder does so. Therefore, if you want to share your invention with third parties, it's smart to first file a patent application to protect yourself against someone who might steal your idea.
  • Limit Your Competition. Patenting your invention or products will help you curb any competition. If you have a competitors that copies your idea, by patenting your product, you can ask your competitors to stop selling your patented product. If they don't respond, you can always sue them for infringing upon your patent.
  • Exclusivity. If you are successful in patenting your invention, you will be able to exclusively profit and use your invention for 20 years from the filing date of your patent application (this applies to utility patents).
  • You will find a detailed explanation of why you should or should not get a patent here.

How to Protect your Idea or Invention Before Getting a Patent?

If you need help or input on your invention from third parties and you don't have a patent on your invention, you can have an attorney prepare a confidentiality agreement that they can sign to keep the details of your invention private.

While confidentiality agreements are not foolproof, they will make it less likely that the party you're sharing information with will steal or copy your idea. We often find confidentiality agreement used when sharing information between inventors, investors, friends, family, and students.

Keeping your invention confidential is important if you want to get a patent for your invention. It's important because you typically have to file a patent application for your invention before disclosing the invention to the public.

This is so because if the invention is disclosed to the public, it becomes prior art and when the patent examiner is considering whether the invention is new, if he finds the prior art, he may find that the invention is not new and reject the patent application.

That said, the United States along with some other countries offers a 12 month grace period, which allows application to file a patent application within 12 months of disclosing it to the public.

If any of the parties who signed the confidentiality agreement discloses your invention or tries to copy your idea, you will be able to sue them in court for breaking the agreement. If you want a good confidentiality agreement, contact an attorney in your jurisdiction and have them draft one for you.

Steps to Patent Your Idea

Patenting your invention is a long and somewhat complicated process. Knowing the steps you need to take to patent your idea or invention will help clarify things for you. Here are the steps you'll need to take to get a patent:

1) Make Sure your Idea Qualifies for a Patent

To get a patent, you can't patent just an idea, you need to show how your invention works. In addition to having an invention, your invention must be new and we will discuss the novel (new) requirement in the section directly below. Making sure that your invention qualifies for patent protection is very important especially since it requires a fair amount of your money and time to patent it.

2) To Get a Patent Your Invention Must be Novel (New)

To get a patent, U.S Law requires your invention to be new and useful. For your invention to be new means that some aspect of your invention was not known to the public before filing your patent application. The novelty (new) requirement was established to prevent prior art (publicly disclosed information) from being patented. Prior art includes all information that has been made available to the public is any form prior to filing your patent application with the USPTO. If the patent examiner finds that your invention has been described in prior art, your invention will be deemed not to be new.

3) Your Invention Must be Useful

Useful means that your invention provides some identifiable benefit or solves some problem. The patent office typically find inventions useful if they provide some identifiable benefit to society and it's capable of being used. Inventions are rarely challenged on the grounds that they are not useful. The USPTO guidelines require patent application to express a specific, credible, and substantial utility. When patent examiners examine your application, the patent office bears the burden of proving that your invention is not useful. The utility you claim in your application is presumed valid unless the patent examiner shows otherwise.

4) Choose the Protection you Need

If you are still working out the kinks from your invention or you want to improve it and you're not ready to file a nonprovisional (regular) patent application, you can apply for a provisional patent application to reserve a priority date for your invention while continuing to work on your invention. Some people often refer to this as a provisional patent, but it's really just a provisional patent application.

Once you file a provisional patent application, you can use the words patent pending on your products, its packaging, and materials. That said, provisional patents are only good for 12 months. During the 12 months, you must file a nonprovisional (regular) patent application to patent your invention.

The downside to using a provisional patent application is if you add anything new to the invention that was not included on the provisional application, you will need to file a new patent application to add any newly protected features.

That said, if you already completed work on your invention and you have the money to patent your product, you can skip the provisional patent application and file a regular patent application with the patent office.

Also, in addition to your utility patent application, you can file a design patent application to protect the way your invention looks because utility patents only protect how an article is used and how it works, so if you want to protect the aesthetics of your product, you'll need to file a design patent in addition to the utility patent application. Protecting both the utility and design of your invention makes your intellectual property more valuable.

5) Prepare & File Your Patent Application

Preparing and filling out your patent application to get a patent is a complicated process that requires you to comply with technical and formal requirements. The regular patent application has several parts and making mistakes, minor or major, can get your application rejected.

You do have the option of completing and filing your patent application yourself and the patent office is required to help you do so, however we always recommend that you consult and hire an attorney to complete and file your application for you.

If you choose to do it yourself, make a checklist of all of the requirements you need to comply with and double check your work as you move from one section of the application to the other.

If you do make a mistake, the patent office will usually give you a chance to correct it, however it will cost you time and money to submit corrections to the patent office.

We recommend that you hire an experienced patent, such as the ones at Legal Zoom because they have a team of experienced patent attorney who are skilled at drafting and filing patent applications for applicant such as yourself.

6) Wait For the USPTO to Respond

Once you've filed your patent application with the USPTO, you have to wait to hear back from them. Often times the patent examiner will reject your application arguing that your invention is not new, that your invention is not patentable, or that you have failed to explain how your invention works.

In any of these circumstances, you can usually reply to the USPTO arguing why your your patent application should be granted and why the patent examiner is wrong.

While your waiting to hear back from the patent office, you can start contacting potential customers for your product or you can contact companies that want to license the technology you're trying to patent.

Why you Should Not Patent Your Idea or Invention?

Patents are valuable form of intellectual property rights. You should not get a patent if your invention is not patentable or if your invention is patentable but will not become commercially successful. Patenting your invention can be a costly process, especially if you need an attorney to help you with your patent application.

So, how do you know if your invention is patentable?

1) USPTO Search. You should search the USPTO Patent Database to ensure that no one has patented an invention or process that's the same or similar to yours. If you find that there are no similar inventions, you should move on to other publications.

2) Search Expansion. If the USPTO search does not return any similar inventions, you can move on to searching other publications, such as scientific journals that relate to your invention.

3) Attorney. If for some reason you're having trouble performing the search on your own, don't feel discouraged because conducting the research on your own can be difficult. If you have an invention worth patenting, contact a patent attorney and have them help you perform the required research.

4) Notes. If while performing your research you find inventions that are similar to yours, write some notes about how your invention differs from them or how it improves upon them. Prepare a short explanation of why your invention is different from the ones that came before it.

Do you Need a Lawyer to Patent Your Idea?

We have seen many people successfully patent their idea or inventions on their own, so it's not totally unheard of for someone to prepare and file their own patent application. Finding a good patent attorney costs a lot of money, but they are better suited to conduct research and prepare your application for you.

While hiring an attorney doesn't guarantee the approval of your patent application, the chances of getting your application rejected for seemingly minor mistakes is a lot less with the help of an attorney.

If you choose to prepare and file your patent application on your own, you have to make sure that your invention qualifies for a patent and you will have to fill out the patent application. When filling out the patent application, you have to describe your invention and how it works.

That said, going it alone is very risky because you need to do a lot of work in a field that you may know little about. If you believe that you can get yourself a quality patent without the help of an attorney, you're free to do so, but if you have the money to hire an attorney and like the added convenience, hire an attorney to do the heavy lifting for you.

Patent attorneys have not only passed the bar exam, but they have also passed the patent bar exam. Most patent lawyers have a great grasp of how the patenting process works and the ins and outs of patent law to help you get the best patent protection possible.

Frequently Asked Questions (How to Get a Patent)

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about how to get a patent in the US:

1) How Much Does it Cost to Get a Patent?

When considering the costs for getting a patent, you have to consider the patent application fees and lawyer fees if you have one. If you are an individual inventor or a business with 500 employees or less, you will have to pay a filing fee of $150 for utility patents, $100 for design patents, and $140 for provisional patents.

The majority of the cost that you'll have to pay is for an attorney to prepare your nonprovisional (regular) patent application. Lawyer fees for utility patents range from $5,000 to $15,000+, depending on the complexity of your invention. Software patents often cost $15,000+ due to the complexity of software patent law.

The fees we just mentioned are to prepare and file your patent application. Often times the patent office will communicate with your attorney and your attorney might have to make adjustments to your patent application, this of course is not free and your attorney will likely charge you for these services.

For more information on patent costs check out this article.

2) How Long Does it Take to Get a Patent?

In 2019, it's currently taking 24 months from the date you file your patent to get a patent. Your patent application may take more or less time depending on how complex your invention is.

The USPTO currently has 550,000+ pending patent applications and only 8,000+ examiners to examine all of the applications. This is why the patent office is currently taking so long to approve application.

The first response from the USPTO is currently 16.4 months. Just remember that the first response you get from the patent office may not be an immediate approval, rather the response may be that your application is lacking in some aspect. You or your attorney will have an opportunity to reply and argue why your application is not lacking and a patent should be granted.

3) Why do Patent Attorneys Charge So Much to Get a Patent?

Patent attorneys charge a lot of money because they have specific experience in the field of patent law and scientific or engineering experience that relates to the field of the invention they're seeking to patent.

Good patent attorneys are highly skilled in their field and many patent attorneys negotiate with the patent office on your behalf to get you the best patent protection possible. But any negotiations and communications that the attorney has to do with the patent office is usually in addition to the filing expenses you first paid.

While you may be tempted to prepare and file the patent application on your own, paying for a decent patent attorney may save you time and money down the road.

4) Why Should I get a Patent?

You should get a patent if you have an invention that's worth protecting. Patents give you exclusive ownership over your invention for a limited period of time. For utility patents, you will enjoy ownership for 20 years from the filing date of your patent application, for design patents you get 15 years of protection from the date your patent is granted, and for plant patents you get 20 years of protection from the filing date of your patent application.

Having a patent over your invention allows you to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing your invention to the United States. However, patents issued by the USPTO cannot be used to restrict others from making or selling your invention in other countries. For protection in other countries, you will need to get a patent in every country that you want patent protection in.

Patent Pending

Once you've applied to get a patent, your invention immediately becomes patent pending and you can instantaneously begin marketing it as such. That said, while your patent is pending, you are not protected from patent infringement because you cannot sue anyone for infringing upon a patent that is still pending.

That said, having the words patent pending on your product puts potential copiers and thieves on notice that you're actively seeking legal protection for your product. In the even that the USPTO grants your patent, you will be able to take legal action against those that infringe upon your patent.

Filing a Provisional Patent Application to Patent Your Idea Fast

Filing your patent application quickly is more important today than it ever was before thanks to the first to file rule in the United States. Under the first to file rule, priority is given to the applicant who files his patent first. This makes the benefits of establishing ownership over intellectual property more important than ever.

As mentioned previously, filing a provisional patent application, just like filing a regular patent application gives you patent pending status. This gives you plenty of time to test the market and see if there's a market for your invention.

With a provisional patent application, you can approach manufacturers for quotes and you can approach buyers to see if they're willing to place an order for your patent pending product. By the end of your market research, you should have a good idea of whether there's a market for your idea and whether you need to make any improvements to your invention.

Since provisional patent applications are almost never read or examined by the patent office (unlike non-provisional applications), this buys you an extra year of secrecy. Non-provisional patent applications are typically made public after 18 months of filing.

Overall, provisional patent applications are great to use before using a regular application. Provisional patent applications gives you the freedom to speculate, test the waters, and ultimately make a more informed decision about whether you really want to get a patent for your invention.

How to Patent an Idea or Product? (Concluded)

Now you know that getting a patent is a great way to protect your intellectual property rights. We shared all of the information relating to how to patent your idea or invention in the United States, whether you should hire an attorney to get a patent, and the steps you need to take to patent your idea or invention. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


Why do people get patents

Why Do People Get Patents?

Patents are a type of intellectual property rights that grant inventors a monopoly over their invention for a limited period of time (usually 20 years). Once an inventor patents their invention, they can restrict others from making, using, selling, or importing their invention without their express permission.

So, why do people get patents?

People get patents to protect their intellectual property. Patents allow the holder to exclusively make, use, and sell his invention for a limited period of 20 years from the patent's filing date. Being able to exclusively make and sell an invention often allows inventors to make good profits for a limited period of time.

Profiting from an invention is one of the biggest incentives people have for patenting their invention. The monopoly people get to enjoy over their invention motivates them to create and bring new ideas to life.

Inventors are often faced with many obstacles before coming up with a successful invention, as such it's great that we have a system that awards them for their hard work and innovation.

Inventors who make something that's new and unique patent their invention with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

If you are curious about patents, you can search for existing patents by using Google Patents Search Tool. Simply enter the name of the invention you're looking for and you'll find plenty of results matching your search query.

Importance of Patents

Before we dive into the importance of patents, lets answer the question: where does the right to exclude others from using your invention come from? The power to exclude others from using or selling your invention comes from the U.S Constitution Article 1 | Section 8 | Clause 8, to be exact.

Exclusive Rights

Like we mentioned, patents grant inventors monopolies to exclusively make and sell their invention. So, if an inventors finds out that someone else is making and selling an invention that's the same as or similar to his, he will be able to stop them from doing so by suing them for patent infringement.

Opportunity to Sell or License Your Invention

Patents can make patent holders quite a lot of money, especially if the technology they've patented is unique and solves a problem that not many have been able to solve.

This puts the inventor in a great spot to either manufacture and market the invention himself, or to license the technology to others in exchange for a licensing fee or royalty. If an inventor doesn't want to license the technology, he can sell his patent by assigning it to someone else, thereby relinquishing any rights to the patent.

Return of Investment

Some companies invest millions of dollars developing the technology they've patented. Patents incentivize them to take these large risks because patents give them a period of time (usually 20 years) to recoup their investment and make a respectable amount of profit. In some circumstances, these returns can be huge, depending on the success of the invention.

Positive Image For You and Your Business

Both the public and investors perceive companies with large patent portfolios as being an innovator and producer of new technology. This is beneficial for inventors trying to raise money for their company.

How Do People Get a Patent?

People who have an invention that is new and unique can get a patent by filing an application with the USPTO. They will have to disclose their invention and how it works for the patent office to grant them a patent. They must file their patent application within 1 year of publicly disclosing their invention.

In the United States, getting a patent takes between 18 to 24 months, depending on the invention's complexity, the more complex, the more time it will take to get approved by the patent office.

After a person submits their patent application to the USPTO, an examiner is assigned to examine the invention. If the examiner determines that the invention meets all of the patentability requirements, the patent will be granted and the patent holder will be able to exercise his rights as they relate to the patent.

It's important to note that patents issued by the USPTO only protect the inventor within the United States. If the inventor wants protection overseas, he will have to apply for a patent in every countries he wants to protect his invention. That said, an inventor can stop anyone who tries to import his patented invention to the United States.

For example, if an inventor gets a patent in the United States, he will only be able to restrict others from making, using, or selling his invention in the United States. If he wants to prevent people from using or selling his invention in China, he will need to file and get a patent in China to protect his intellectual property rights.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Patent?

People who patent their inventions, typically spending $7,500 to $15,000 to have an attorney fill out and file their patent application. This cost does not include any of the filing fees imposed by the USPTO.

If the inventor is an individual, they should expect to spend another $1,000 on filing fees, assuming that everything goes smoothly with the patent office and the attorney does not need to perform any additional work.

Like we mentioned earlier, inventors who get patents in the United States may have to file international patents to protect their inventions abroad. This costs a lot of money. Some companies spend tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect a single invention abroad.

While protecting their invention abroad may be expensive, for some people it's worth the money spent if they have an invention worth protecting. Some may have to spend a lot of money upfront, but they may be able to recoup it by stopping others from infringing upon their intellectual property overseas.

Why Do People Who Get Patents Often Seek the Help of an Attorney?

Many people who want to patent their invention or process need the help of an attorney because of the USPTO's strict requirements. Good attorneys know how the patent system works and can often avoid costly and time consuming mistakes that inventors make. While hiring an attorney can reduce the possibility of things going wrong, some things just go wrong even if you did everything right.

You might apply to patent a new braking system for a bike and the patent examiner might reject your application for a minor mistakes. Also, the examination of patents is somewhat subjective, so while you or your lawyer might reasonably believe that you haven't infringed on anyone else's patent, the patent examiner might come to a different conclusion. This is where a smart attorney will present proof and argue with the patent examiner to get your patent approved.

The problem with hiring an attorney are the fees you'll have to pay them. A typical attorney charges anywhere between $7,500 to $15,000 for a simple invention, the cost may be more or less depending on the complexity of your invention. You may incur additional costs if your attorney needs to make revisions to your patent application. So, if you're budgeting for your a patent application, keep in mind that you may have to pay your attorney for more than just filing your patent application.

Why Do People Apply for Provisional Patents Before Getting a Patent?

Inventors often apply for provisional patent applications before applying for a non-provisional (regular) patent application. Provisional application reserve a prior date for an invention, but they do not mature into patents. They last for 12 months, during this 12 month period, the inventor has to file a nonprovisional (regular) application to get a patent. So, why do people apply for provisional patents before getting a patent?

Many people apply for a provisional patent first because they cost less and they don't have to comply with the strict requirements of a non-provisional application. Also, once an inventor applies for a provisional patent, he can use the words "patent pending" on his invention, as well as any packaging or accompanying materials.

While many inventors will need the assistance of an attorney to file a non-provisional patent application, many will not need one to fill out and file a provisional patent application, but some inventors still opt for the help of an attorney to do it for them.

Why Do Inventors Patent Their Invention?

As we mentioned previously, inventors patent their inventions so that they can prevent others from copying their ideas and inventions. Once an inventor patents his invention, he is able to exclusively make, sell, and import his invention while restricting competitors from using his invention. We hope this article answered any questions about why people get patents. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


How to buy a patent that has expired in the us

How to Buy Expired Patents

Patents are a form of intellectual property that allows an inventor to exclusively use the item they've patented. Patents in the US are granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) after submitting your completed patent application. Once the patent examiner reviews and approves your application, a patent is granted to you. That said, patents don't last forever, so how do you purchase an expired patent? This article will detail the steps you need to take to buy an expired patent.

To keep a utility patent from expiring, an inventor must make maintenance payments on the patent, however sometimes inventors don't make these mandatory payments, causing a patent to expire or lapse. If the patent lapses, this creates an opportunity for you to purchase the expired patent. So, how exactly do you go about purchasing an expired patent? We will cover this in more detail below.

When Can you Buy an Expired Patent?

If you're looking to buy an expired patent, it's important to know that utility patents typically expire at 4, 8, and 12 years after the USPTO issues them. To be exact, utility patents expire 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years into the patents life, but the USPTO offers a six month grace period, allowing the patent owner a grace period to pay the required maintenance fees.

If the patent owner chooses to renew their patent by making the maintenance fees within the 6 month period, the patent is renewed and will not lapse (expire).

How to Buy an Expired Patent?

You can buy an expired patent by performing a patent search through the USPTO website (more on this later) and checking to see if the patent has expired. Once you find a patent that has expired and you want to buy, you can go ahead and contact the patent owner to negotiate purchasing the patent.

Utility patents typically last for 20 year and often times patent holders don't want to pay the periodic maintenance fees that are required to keep their patent live, as a result, many may list their patent for sale.

This is an opportunity for you to contact them and negotiate with them to purchase their patent. If you're successful and the patent holder agrees to sell you their patent, you can reinstate the patent by paying the past due maintenance fees and paying a surcharge.

For the USPTO to revive a patent that has lapsed, an individual will have to pay $850 to $1,700. If you are considered to be a small entity, you will only have to pay $850. Individual inventors and small businesses that have under 500 employees are considered as small entities, and will only have to pay $850 to reinstate a lapsed patent.

In addition to this charge, you will have to pay past-due maintenance fees to revive a lapsed patent. Here are the maintenance fees you may have to pay if you're individual inventor or you're a business with no more than 500 employees:

  • 3.5 Years: $800
  • 7.5 Years: $1,800
  • 11.5 Years: $3,700

Can you Refile an Expired Patent?

If a patent has expired after reaching the 20 year mark, you can still contact the patent owner and negotiate a sale. You may be able to buy the invention and all right associated with the patent, however you will not be able to refile or renew the patent. This is so because patents are only good for 20 years and cannot be renewed past that date.

After a utility patent has been in place for 20 years or a design patent for 15 years, the invention becomes part of the public domain, meaning that the patent holder can no longer exclude others from using, making, and selling the invention. Said differently, you can use, make, sell, and import the invention because it no longer enjoys protection.

Summary For How to Find and Buy Expired Patents

Here is a quick summary of the steps you can follow to find and purchase an expired patent. If you want a more detailed step-by-step list on how to find and buy expired patents, see the section below.

  • Search the USPTO Patent Database for Patents
  • See instructions below how to search list of patents
  • Select the date range of the patents you're interested in
  • Copy the patent number
  • Retrieve patent information from Public Patent Information System
  • Contact the patent owner if you're interested in the patent they hold

How to Find Expired Patents?

Here is one way to find and purchase expired patents:

1) USPTO Patent Database

Head over to the USPTO Advanced Patent Search here

2) Input Title

Input the title of the patent you're searching for. For example, if you are searching for patents relating to "bottles", you would use the following text:

ttl/(bottles)

Once you hit the search button, you will see the following results related to bottles:

3) Date Range

Set a date range for the issue date of the patent to narrow down your search. If you want to search for patents relating to bottle that are issued within a certain time-frame, you would use the following search query:

ttl/(bottles) and
isd/11/1/1997->5/12/2014

To set your own date range, replace the dates in the search query above. For example if you want to search for patents relating to bottles, issued between March 1, 2000 to April 5, 2018, you would use the following search query:

ttl/(bottles) and
isd/03/1/2000->4/5/2018

4) Copy the Patent Number

5) Public Patent Application Information

Head over here to access the Public Patent Application Retrieval system.

Once you have accessed the system, click on the option to search by patent number and enter the patent number you retrieved from the previous step.

6) Check to See if Patent Expired

If you find that the status of the patent has expired, you will be able to contact the buyer to see whether they're willing to sell it. Here are two examples, one where the patent has expired and one where the patent is still in effect.

Expired Patent

Here is an example of a patent that has not expired...

Patent Not Expired

How to Buy an Expired Patent?

Once you've located a patent that has expired, you can use the methods we've detailed above to contact and negotiate the sale of the patent with the patent holder. Like we mentioned previously, if the patent has lapsed for non-payment of maintenance fees, you will have to pay those fees, as well as an additional charge of $850 to reinstate the patent.

Remember that utility patents last for 20 years from the filing date of the patent and design patents last for 15 years from the date the patent is granted. Although you may be able to reinstate the patent, buying it will not extend the term of the patent.

That said, some patents expire because the patent term has ended. For those of you who are new to patents, patent term refers to the 20 year validity date of patents. After 20 years of filing a patent, patents expire and once they expire they become part of the public domain. When they become part of the public domain, you can use, manufacture, sell, and import the invention that was once protected without having to contact the patent holder (basically, they are free to use without anyone's permission).

So, if you wanted to copy the expired patent that we referenced above, you could probably do so without even contacting or taking permission from the patent owner. That said, it's always a good idea to consult with your attorney before copying someone else's expired or abandoned patent because there is a chance that the inventor may have filed other patents that are related to the one you're looking, so keep an eye out for such circumstances.

Benefits of Purchasing Expired Patents

  • Buying an expired patent provides you with the rights of the original patent holder provided that you pay the overdue maintenance fees and reinstatement fees.
  • When a patent expires, the buyer will be able to reinstate the patent by paying the outstanding maintenance fee and paying a reinstatement fee.
  • Buying an expired patent save you the hassle of having to invent and patent the invention yourself. You only have to purchase the patent, pay outstanding fees, and the patent is yours. You can spend your time improving and marketing the invention you just purchased.
  • If you happen to purchase a design patent or plant patent, you'll be happy to know that you won't need to pay any maintenance fees. Also, design patents last for 15 years from the day they're granted, while plant patents last for 20 years from the patent application's filing date.

Cons of Purchasing Expired Patents

  • The maintenance and reinstatement fees associated with patents can be huge if they have not paid for a long period of time. You have to determine whether it makes sense for you to purchase an expired patent by paying the outstanding maintenance fees and reinstatement fees.
  • Expired patents are sometimes involved in legal battles and lawsuits.
  • Please note that as patents move through 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years, the outstanding maintenance fees will continue to pile up, often presenting thousands of dollars of fees.
  • Patent trolls will often purchase expired patents by purchasing old patents and using them to sue other patent holders for patent infringement.

Frequently Asked Questions: How to Buy Expired Patents?

1) When Do Patents Expire?

To determine when a patent expires, you have to determine what type of patent you're dealing with. Utility patents expire 20 years from the patent application filing date. Design patents expire 15 years from the patent grant date. Plant patents expire 20 years from the patent application filing date.

2) What are Maintenance Fees?

Maintenance fees are fees that are mandated by the USPTO. They are classified into three periods: E1, E2, and E3, they occur at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years. If a patent holder does not pay these fees on time, they have a 6 month grace period to pay, if they do not pay, the patent expires for non-payment of maintenance fees.

3) How Much are the Maintenance Fees?

Maintenance fees increase as the patent ages. At 3.5 years, you will have to pay $800, at 7.5 years you will have to pay $1,800, and at 11.5 years you will have to pay $3,700. If the patent has expired, there are more fees to pay.

4) What happens when you pay the third maintenance fee?

Once you have paid the final maintenance fee at year 11.5, the patent will be valid for the full patent term of 20 years from the its filing date.

5) Do I Need a Lawyer When Purchasing an Expired Patent?

While you can talk to and negotiate the sale of a patent on your own, it's recommended that you consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction because sometimes there are additional patents related to the one you're trying to purchase and this could lead to trouble down the road. So, talking to an attorney is a good idea and may save you some money and trouble down the road.

How to Purchase an Expired Patent?

We have detailed the steps you will need to take to purchase an expired patent. We have also given the pros and cons of purchasing an expired patent. If you have any general questions or comments on how to buy an expired patent, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.