It may be disappointing to learn that the patent protection given to an inventor or entrepreneur does not last forever. Because of that fact, it’s critical for an inventor or entrepreneur to always keep the end goal in mind through each stage of the patent process.
How Long Is My Patent Good For?
Patent protection lasts 20 years from the filing date of the earliest U.S. or international (PCT) application to which priority is claimed. Once the patent expires, anyone is free to make, use, offer for sale, or sell the patented invention without having to ask for permission from the patent owner. That is the deal you make to obtain a limited monopoly.
Generally royalties will also stop at this time, as the patent trumps any timelines within licensing agreements you may have with a third party.
Preparing for the End
The good news, however, is that won’t have to stop selling your patented design or invention when your patent ultimately expires, but others will at this point be able to imitate and market your idea or design, too. This will obviously bring more competition in the marketplace and may drive down the price that you are able to charge for your product or invention.
In time, you may discover ways to improve upon your product or invention. Doing so may open the doors for you to receive a second-generation patent, which can extend the legal protection you have over your invention.
Finally, keep in mind that a patent is just one tool that an inventor or entrepreneur can use to protect their work. There are other ways to safeguard the brand you are working so hard to build, such utilizing trademarks and trade secrets.
An experienced patent attorney can help you prepare for the end of your patent and guide you toward additional opportunities that may help keep your business profitable after it happens. If you need assistance getting started, simply contact our United States patent attorneys at 888-666-0062 or click here to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.