How Long is My Patent Term?

After you have spent all the time an effort to get your patent granted, determining the length of  time your patent rights are valid is the next step.

Normally, your patent term runs for 20 years from the filing date of the earliest U.S. application to which priority is claimed.  However, that isn’t the whole story.  Various issues can arise during the prosecution of your patent, so adjustments are made to the patent term.

As you might expect, this can make determining how long you patent rights exist a bit more difficult.
Fortunately, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently announced a new tool for patent holders. The online calculator enables members of the public to estimate the expiration date of a utility, plant, or design patent.
The tool can help determine if the patent term has been shortened or extended by a number of factors, including:
•    Type of application (utility, design, plant);
•    Filing date of the application;
•    The grant date of the patent;
•    Benefit claims under 35 U.S.C. § 120, 121 or 365(c);
•    Patent term adjustments and extensions under 35 U.S.C. § 154;
•    Patent term extensions under 35 U.S.C. § 156;
•    Terminal disclaimer(s); and
•    Timely payment of maintenance fees.

The USPTO’s new calculator tool “provides a best estimate of a patent’s expiration date, based on a comprehensive list of factors than can be found in USPTO records.”

The calculator can be downloaded here.

How Can I Help?

While the calculator can provide valuable information, I recommend that individuals and companies still consult with an experienced patent attorney to determine if a patent is still in force. The USPTO also agrees, noting, “Before relying on an expiration date, individuals should always carefully inspect all relevant documents available through the USPTO, court records and elsewhere, and consult with an attorney.”

So, if you, or someone you know, need help with determining patent terms or any other Intellectual Property issue, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just advice regarding how best to protect your ideas and your brand, contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +


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