A patent grants you the exclusive rights to an invention or a product, and no one else can copy that design as long as you hold the patent. This may seem like a simple concept, but it is critical in the business world, where a company’s entire value can be governed by the patents it holds and the ability that gives the company to produce goods for its customer base.
After you get a patent, how long do you have it? Can you count on that exclusivity forever?
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the standard term for a modern patent is 20 years. Older patents may be subject to different rules. The 20-year duration is for everything that was filed from June 8, 1995 onward.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes, however, that there still can be some variations. According to the FDA, statutes set the exact terms for different types of patents. The FDA deals with drug patents, for instance. While 20 years is the current term, there are “many other factors” that can impact the total duration for each unique case.
As you can see, it is very important to understand the specifics of any patent that you hold, especially if the intellectual property your company controls is a significant reason for its overall value. If the patent is set to expire, you need to know what steps to take. You also want to know what options you have if you think that someone else has illegally infringed on your patent before it ran out.