Can You Renew An Expired Patent?
In Arizona last year, over 300,000 patents were granted. A patent, which is a registered license, states that only the inventor or entity is allowed to make, use, or sell a specific invention. It also gives an inventor exclusive ownership for a designated amount of time. In the United States, if renewal fees are paid, a design patent is valid for 15 years and a utility patent is valid for 20 years. You might be wondering then, what happens to patents after they expire?
We weren’t sure what the options were either. So we connected with a Scottsdale patent lawyer to find out more about expired patents and if you can renew or sell them.
How Long is a Patent Valid?
It depends on the type of patent. For example, if the renewal fees aren’t paid, utility patents expire every four, eight, and twelve years after issuance. After 20 years, a utility patent can no longer be renewed and is considered expired. On the other hand, design patents are good for 15 years only but have no option for renewal.
What Happens When a Patent Expires?
When a patent expires it simply means that the owner can no longer sue someone for infringement. That being said, there are other intellectual property rights such as, copyright, trademark, etc., that can provide product protection and give rise to significant liability. The expiration of the patent license will not impact those other rights.
Unfortunately, an inventor is not permitted to re-patent an expired patent. This is because once it expires, it falls into the public domain and is then considered “prior art,” as such prohibits inventors from patenting the same invention. However, if you’re able to improve your invention in a non-obvious or novel way, you can then patent your newest model.
Once a patent is expired and available to the public, it then also becomes available for purchase. If you’re interested in buying an expired patent, you should research and contact the patent owner to negotiate a sale. If that happens you would own the invention and all the rights to it, including the patent license. That being said, if the patent is older than the 20 or 15 year limit, you are only able to purchase the product, and any other materials or information the previous owner supplies. You will not be able to own or renew the patent license.
Do You Need A Patent Lawyer?
It may be possible you can manage, renew or sell a patent without an experienced, legal professional, but it’s not really in your best interest. First and foremost, you’ll likely be dealing with and up against other patent lawyers which will be difficult to do without the right knowledge and experience. Secondly, when you hire a patent lawyer to protect your pocket and assets, that’s exactly what they’ll do. They’ll make sure you get the best deal, write the most professional and binding contract, and ensure the sale is legitimate without loopholes or other potential future complications and risks.
To us, it seems like a no brainer, the experience of a patent lawyer is worth the price. If you don’t believe us, luckily you can call for free consultations and see what the benefits are for yourself.