You have put a lot of time and skill into developing your patent. No matter what type of patent you have, it can set your business apart from the competition.
In addition to the timelines for obtaining a patent, there are also essential deadlines for keeping your patent.
Here’s what you should know about the lifespan of a patent and what you need to do to maintain your patent.
They don’t last forever
The United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) looks at the date you filed for your patent to determine when your patent started. From there, depending on the type of patent you have, you may be looking at it being licensed for 15-20 years. Typically, a design patent lasts 15 years and a utility patent lasts 20.
Maintaining your patent
While your patent may last for 15-20 years, you will have to maintain your patent to keep it. Typically, you will need to pay a maintenance fee at three years, seven years and eleven years.
These fees help establish that you, as the patent owner, are still involved and invested in maintaining the patent, so the USPTO does not allow early payment.
However, if you miss the six-month window to pay your maintenance fee, there is a grace period where you can pay the fee and a surcharge to maintain your patent.
What happens when my patent expires?
If you do not pay the maintenance fees before the end of the grace period, your patent will expire. You can reinstate an expired patent, but you must submit a petition to a recognized party to reinstate it. In addition to the petition, you will also need to pay the required fees to reinstate your patent.
Maintaining a patent is an integral part of protecting your intellectual property. If you do not maintain your patent, you risk a competitor taking advantage of the lapse.