A patent’s term is the period of time during which the granted rights are enforceable by the holder of the patent. How long does a patent last? Today’s two-minute drill addresses how terms are calculated for some different types of patents issued in the United States.
I’ll start with the easy one. For a design patent issued off an application filed on or after May 13, 2015, its enforceable term begins on its grant date and generally ends 15 years from the grant date.
Utility patent terms are slightly more complex, because their terms can depend upon a variety of factors related to the patenting process. Similar to a design patent, the enforceable term of a utility patent begins on its grant date.
There is some nuance in a utility patent’s term calculation. Inter alia, if priority to a U.S. provisional patent application was claimed, the priority claim isn’t taken into account when calculating the patent’s term.
Maintenance fees must further be paid at intervals after the grant of a utility patent.
There are additional adjustments (e.g., patent term adjustments and terminal disclaimers) that could apply to a patent’s term, so it’s always best to consult with a patent attorney to determine whether a patent is active or for how long it will be enforceable.