Ask The Invention Geek – Do Patents Expire?

Question from Jill W.:
I was wondering: do patents ever expire?

Good question, Jill.

A United States patent that was filed after June 8, 1995 expires 20 years from the filing date. A patent that was filed before June 8, 1995 expires 17 years from the issue date or 20 years from the filing date whichever is later.

United States Utility Patents require maintenance fees to be paid. Fees are due at 3.5, 7 and 11.5 years from the date of issue. If these fees are not paid, the patent will expire before the 20 years have passed.

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