How long does a patent last?

Get Legal Help Today

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

How long a patent lasts depends on the type of patent being issued and the country issuing the patent. For example, under recent changes in the laws, in the United States, patents are now granted for a term of 20 years from the date of application (14 years for design patents). Different rules apply for patents from applications filed before June 8, 1995. Patents may be extended only by a special act of Congress, except for certain pharmaceutical patents.

After the term of the patent has expired, the person holding the patent loses the right to stop others from utilizing the invention. At that time, anyone can make use of the invention without permission of the patent holder.

Design Patents

Design patents last for 14 years. A design patent is issued for designs placed on manufactured items. Examples would include various skins for iPods or fabrics used in the fashion industry. To learn more about design patents visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website’s section on design patents.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Plant Patents

Plant patents last for 20 years. A plant patent according to the U.S. patent office, “is granted by the government to an inventor (or the inventor’s heirs or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.” An example would be the annual rose created for the Rose Bowl Parade. To learn more, visit the USPTO’s plant patents section.

Utility Patents

A utility patent is the most common patent issued, and it lasts for 20 years. Utility patents are granted for inventions such as machines, machine parts, or even a new child’s toy. You can learn more about utility patents and the patenting process on the USPTO’s website.

International Patents

International patents can last anywhere from 6 to 20 years, depending on the type of patent and the country where you are seeking patenting. On average, countries that are part of the World Trade Organization will grant 20-year patents.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption