Understanding Patent Lifespans

Types of Patents and their Uses
February 2009

Technology moves now with a speed once undreamed of its swift march dictates a shortening of the life of a patent. -- W. Hamilton - Patents and Free Enterprise Temporary [U. S.] National Economic Committee, 1941

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What is a Patent?

A patent is an exclusive right of ownership granted by the government to a person. A patent gives the owner the sole discretion of use, legally defending others from attempting to exploit the invention in any commercial application. There are three basic types of patents: Utility, Design, and Plant. A utility patent is issued for inventions that are both useful and functional. In the United States, any utility patent issued after June 8, 1995 is deemed good for 20 years from the date of application, while a patent issued prior to June 8, 1995 is valid only for 17 years. Both of these involve maintenance fees that need to be paid for the patent to be valid for its entire lifespan. Design patents are granted for the decorative design of a functional object and have a validity term of 14 years from the issuance date. There are no maintanence fees for design patents. A plant patent is different from the other two patent types as it is granted by the US Government to an inventor who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a unique and new species of plant,. This patent lasts for 20 years from the filing date, requires no fees, and prevents others from asexually reproducing, selling, or using the reproduced plant.

Patent Extensions The validity period of all patents are generally non-renewable. However, there are some exceptions but only via special acts of Congress. For instance, certain pharmaceutical patents may be prolonged in order to make up for lost time as a result of mandatory Government-required testing. A copyright is a shield granted to the authors of original works including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. While a conventional patent lasts for 20 years, a copyright lasts for about 100 years. A trademark, which is a word, name, symbol, or device distinguishing one product from others, is eternal.

Global Patents Turning the focus to the international patent scene, the procedures and requirements for granting patents vary between countries according to national laws and international agreements. However, any basic patent application must include one or more claims defining the new and useful invention.

About Us

Legal Advantage provides the highest quality output in a timely fashion to IP professionals, attorneys and law firms. Our experienced and trained team can prepare drawings in a broad range of technical fields, as per the guidelines of the USPTO, the European Patent Organization (EPO) and other international patent offices. Our staff consists of IP attorneys, graphic designers, patent designers, prior art researchers and engineers who are well versed in the intellectual property laws and procedures of various countries. After analyzing the invention for disclosure, our experts conduct in-depth searches for prior art. Our prior art search is cost effective and guarantees high quality research when compared to other organizations. Our team understands the US patent laws and technologies and has expert knowledge in this field. We give priority to quality and follow a strict and comprehensive Quality Assurance program. After being quality checked by our accomplished managers and technical team, the project is sent to the client. Our turn-around time is one of the fastest in the industry. We work around client deadlines and have built an excellent reputation for speed and quality. We have successfully completed 15,000 projects in the past seven years, and aim to finish the same number in the next two years. Legal Advantage offers the following services: Intellectual Property services: • Patent Illustrations • Patent Drawings • Patent Proof Reading • Prior Art Search Legal services: • Contract Management and Drafting • Document Review, which consists of Litigation Review and Merger & Acquisition Review • Immigration Services • E-Discovery • Legal Research • Securities Exchange Commission Services Animation Services: • Trial Graphics • 2D and 3D animations • Pie charts and Flow charts For more information, please visit: www.legaladvantage.net

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