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What is a Term of Patent?

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  • Written By: Pablo Garcia
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Term of patent is the maximum period time that a patent can remain legally in force unless extended or renewed. Generally, this is a fixed term of years that runs from either the date of the patent application or the date the patent was granted. A patent lapses if the required maintenance or renewal fees are not paid.

In the US, the term of patent ends 20 years from the earliest filing date. The 20-year term was changed from 17 years following the adoption of policies set out in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). The 20-year period is not retroactive but is calculated on which period is longer, 17 years from issuance of the patent or 20 years from the date of application filing.

In the EU, the European Patent Convention requires all member jurisdictions to fix a term of 20 years patent protection from the actual filing date of an application for a European patent. The 20-year term can be extended under the law of a nation member if its national law provides for extensions. There are priority rights of one year for which a patent can be filed in another country as well. The 20 years then runs from the filing date of the foreign application.

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The term of patent in Canada and France is 20 years from the issuance of the patent. French patent grants are only available in the territory of France. Under certain circumstances, French patent extensions may be available.

Japan and China both have patent terms of 20 years for inventions. Japan offers patent protection only for inventions. The patent term for a “utility model” in China is only 10 years. A utility model is a new solution relating to an invention or product’s shape, structure, or a combination of the two. Patents in India remain in force for 20 years from the date of filing, and this term applies to all patents still in force as of 2 May 2003.

There are three basic types of non-inventive patents. They are design, utility, and plant patents. Design patents involve ornamental designs on functional items such as jewelry, beverage containers, or wallpaper. Utility patents protect the way an invention works or is used, and the patent can involve either a method or a device. Plant patents involve the creation of new or distinctive varieties of plants and flowers.

The life of a design patent is 14 years. The term of patent for a utility is 17 years for patents issued on or before 8 June 1995, and 20 years for patents issued thereafter. Plant patents expire 20 years from the date of application.

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