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How Long Does a Patent Last?

Patents are valuable intellectual property but do not go on forever. The duration is going to be tied to the type of patent and when you file your application.

The most common type of patent is a utility patent.  This is used for most of the inventions you hear about and covers new or improved useful processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter.  The duration of a utility patent is typically 20 years from the application date.  Examples of utility patents include medical devices, cellphones, and power hand tools.

The next type of patent is the design patent which relates to the ornamental design of an item.  The duration for a design patent is 15 years from the date of grant if filed on or after May 13, 2015.  These patents are less common than utility patents and have quicker processing time typically. Design patent examples include an Ikea chair or a Coach purse.

Finally, the plant patent is a narrow scope of patent rights for new and distinct, invented or discovered plants.  The duration is 20 years from patent application. Plant patents protect genetically modified seeds or hybrids.

It is important to understand the duration when working with patents as the value is often tied to the remaining life of the patent.  If you need to file a patent, it is best to work with a patent attorney. If you have general questions about your patent, call us at (605) 275-5665 today.