When you create a new product and apply for a patent, your goal might be to build a company around this patent. Maybe you’re planning to launch a startup focused on this new idea. Alternatively, you may have an existing company that is simply patenting a new product that is going into production.
Either way, you’re wondering if your patent is going to last forever. This is your product, it is your invention and it is your intellectual property. Once you prove that with the patent, does that mean that no one else can ever make and sell their product without your permission?
A patent lasts for 20 years
The truth is that patents actually only last for about 20 years, at least in most cases. There are rare exceptions, but 20 years is the general term for all new patents.
When does the timeline start?
Usually, you date the patent application when you file it. Your 20 years start on that date. Once again, there are some exceptions, such as when a related patent was filed at an earlier date, but these are rare.
Can you only sell after you get approval?
This does not mean that you can only sell your product after approval is granted. You may start earlier. For instance, some companies will release a product while it is still in patent pending status. They know that the patent will eventually go through, so there’s no risk in releasing the intellectual property, but they want to start selling beforehand.
Patents are complex and it’s certainly not a DIY process. To get it right, be sure you know what legal steps to take.