Unlike some other forms of intellectual property, patents cannot be renewed for an indefinite period of time. Most notably, trademarks have a different process for renewals. Instead, patents have an expiration date; although calculating the term of a patent can be difficult and can involve a number of factors, as discussed briefly below.
1. What type of patent is it?
The first step in understanding the term of a patent is knowing what type of patent is in question. For instance, design patents currently have a fifteen-year term calculated from the date the design patent was granted. Utility patents, on the other hand, currently have a term of twenty years calculated from the earliest filing date or priority date.
Importantly, however, we often cannot simply add fifteen years to the issue date (in the case of a design patent) or twenty years to the priority date (in the case of a utility patent) to definitively calculate the term of a patent. Rather, there are a number of other factors that must be considered, including but not limited to its filing date, whether maintenance fees are required and timely paid, whether a terminal disclaimer has been submitted, whether there are any patent term adjustments or extensions, etc.
Visit our blog post on “How to File a Patent Application for a New Product or Invention” to learn more about the patent application process.