What is a Patent Term?


A patent term refers to the time period for which the patent protection lasts. As of now, patent protection lasts for 20 years but prior to the June 1995, the patent protection period was for 17 years. This was only applicable to utility patent and plant patent terms. For any application filed after June 1995, the validity of patent is 20 years. This is in case of utility patent and plant patent. The patent protection term for the design patent is different.

Talking about the design patent, it is an exception to above mentioned patent types. The patent term for design patent application is 15 years. The readers must know that the term for design patent was changed from 14 years to 15 years in May 2015. So, the inventors who have gained patent grants prior to this date will have shorted duration of patent protection.

When it comes to length of patent, there is a terminology “Patent Term Adjustments”. If an application gets delayed by USPTO, the patent becomes eligible for adjustment. If the applicant has caused delay in application, the patent will not become eligible to receive extension. Only The patent application filed after 29th May, 2000 would receive extension.

What is Patent Term Extension?

Patent Term Extension is available for certain products which includes medical related patents and pharmaceutical products. Such products undergo a long review process. For that reason, Patent Term Extension is provided to them. The maximum extension is of 5 years which is granted only if the total patent protection period does not exceed 14 years. It also includes the extension.

Related ArticleWhat is a Patent Number? How To Find A Patent Number?

Why is Patent Term Important?

The length of the patent protection tells public for how long the patent is protected from infringement. For an owner, it means the term period during which the owner can reap profit from his/her patent by restraining others to use similar technology or invention. However, the patent holder will have to pay the regular maintenance fee in order to keep the invention in current.

The patent term is important because it restricts other companies to use same invention for its commercial purpose. Companies will wait for your patent protection period to end so they can begin using same application. By paying the maintenance fee, you can take benefit of your patent for 20 years. To find out whether the patent is still in its validity period, you can check out the the United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent Term Estimator spreadsheet. Other than that, you need to have the basic details such as date of filing. For patent applications filed before 1995, the patent protection period is 17 years. On the other hand, the patent protection period is 20 year if the patent application is filed after 1995.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Utility Patent? What is its patent term?

Utility patent is one of the three types of the patents. This type of patent protects the functioning of an invention given that the invention is unique and non-obvious. The patent term for such type of patent is 20 years.

What is the patent term for design patent?

The patent protection period for design patent is different from utility patent and plant patent. While the utility and plant patent last for 20 years, the validity of design patent is 15 years.

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