Can Patents Be Renewed? The Truth About Patent Expiration

Can Patents Be Renewed?

If you have ever wondered whether patents can be renewed, you are not alone.

Patents are valuable assets that grant inventors the exclusive right to make, use, or sell their inventions for a limited period of time.

But what happens when that period expires?

The short answer is no. Patents cannot be renewed in the U.S. or most other countries.

Once a patent expires, the invention becomes part of the public domain and anyone can use it without infringing the patent.

However, there are some exceptions and nuances to this rule that you should know about.

In this article, we will explain how patent expiration works, what factors affect the patent term, and what options patent owners have to extend or revive their patents in certain situations.

We will also look at some famous patents that have expired and how they changed the world.

Can Patents Be Renewed?Courtesy:Fuzzy Panda Research
Can Patents Be Renewed?
Courtesy:Fuzzy Panda Research

How Patent Expiration Works

The duration of a patent depends on the type of patent and the date of filing.

In general, there are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant.

Utility patents filed on or after June 8, 1995 have a term of 20 years from the earliest effective filing date of the application.

When filed before June 8, 1995 have a term of either 20 years from the filing date or 17 years from the issue date, whichever is longer.

Design patents filed on or after May 13, 2015 have a term of 15 years from the issue date.

When filed before May 13, 2015 have a term of 14 years from the issue date.

Plant patents have a term of 20 years from the filing date of the application.

The patent term begins on the date that the patent is granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and ends on the expiration date.

The expiration date can be calculated by adding the patent term to the filing or issue date.

However, there are some factors that can affect the patent term and change the expiration date. These factors include:

  • Patent Term Adjustment (PTA): This is an extension of the patent term to compensate for delays caused by the USPTO during the examination process.
  • Patent Term Extension (PTE): This is an extension of the patent term to compensate for delays caused by regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), during the approval process for certain products, such as drugs or medical devices.
  • Maintenance Fees: These are fees that must be paid by the patent owner to keep a utility or plant patent in force. Maintenance fees are due at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after the issue date of the patent.

Options for Extending or Reviving Patents

As we have seen, patents cannot be renewed once they expire naturally at the end of their term.

However, there are some options for extending or reviving patents in certain situations.

  • Terminal Disclaimer: This is a statement by the patent owner that disclaims any portion of the patent term that would extend beyond the expiration date of another related patent. A terminal disclaimer can be used to overcome a rejection based on double-patenting, which occurs when two patents claim the same invention or an obvious variation of it. A terminal disclaimer can also be used to avoid a reduction in the patent term due to overlapping PTA or PTE with another related patent.
  • Reissue: This is a process by which the patent owner can correct an error in the original patent that affects its validity or scope. A reissue application must be filed within two years from the issue date of the original patent, unless the error is the result of the USPTO’s fault. A reissue patent can have the same or a different scope as the original patent, but it cannot enlarge the scope or extend the term of the original patent.
  • Revival: This is a process by which the patent owner can restore a patent that has expired prematurely due to unintentional failure to pay maintenance fees or unintentional delay in meeting certain deadlines during the prosecution process. A petition for revival must be filed within two months from the date of notice of abandonment or expiration, or within six months from the date of abandonment or expiration, whichever is later.

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