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How long do patent protections last?

As a person with a valuable idea to protect, understanding the basics of patent protection can get lost as you wade into the specifics of the law. If you are considering filing for a patent, you probably want to know how long that patent protection lasts, and when it begins. The length of protection depends on the type of patent you register, among other things.

There are two types of patents you can register — utility patents and design patents. Under current federal patent law, a utility patent usually grants the holder 20 years of protection starting on the date that the patent application gets filed. This, however, is not the end of the story. In many cases, the patent holder must pay occasional fees to keep the protections enforceable.

In contrast, a design patent generally only grants the patent holder 14 years of protection, which begins on the date that the patent is actually granted, not the date when the patent application is filed.

If you believe that you have reason to file a patent, it is very wise to first consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney. Protecting and defending intellectual property is much more complex than merely filing for a patent, and requires a nuanced understanding of the law.

Your rights as an inventor and innovator deserve to be protected. By consulting with an attorney, you can ensure that you understand the scope of protections that a patent offers and how to increase your chances of being granted a patent. You and your work deserve all the protections that the law has to offer.

Source: Stopfakes.gov, "How Long Does Patent, Trademark or Copyright Protection Last?," accessed July 28, 2017

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