Confused About How Long A Patent Is Good For?
By Fatih Ozluturk:
For patents filed on or after June 8, 1995, the protection lasts for 20 years from the filing date of the earliest U.S. application to which priority is claimed. Domestic priority to one or more provisional application is not considered in the calculation of the 20-year term. For patents filed prior to June 8, 1995, the term is 17 years from the date of issuance or 20 years from the filing date of the earliest U.S. or international (PCT) application to which priority is claimed (excluding provisional applications), whichever is longer. These terms apply to utility and plant patents. You need to make timely payments of maintenance fees to keep patents from being abandoned before their term expires. Maintenance fees are not required for plant patents.
Design patents last 14 years from the date the patent is granted. No maintenance fees are required for design patents.
Maintenance fees must be paid within the 6-month period preceding the 3rd date the patent was granted. The maintenance fee may be paid with a surcharge during the “grace period.” The grace periods are the 6-month period preceding the due date of the maintenance fees (3 1⁄2 years to 4 years; 7 1⁄2 years to 8 years; and 11 1⁄2 years to 12 years from the date the patent was granted). If the maintenance fees are not paid, the patent will expire on the 4th was granted.