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FAQs: U.S. Design Patents

Written by Waheedan Jariwalla on 21 January 2010

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How long does patent protection last?

For applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, utility and plant patents are granted for a term which begins with the date of the grant and usually ends 20 years from the date you first applied for the patent subject to the payment of appropriate maintenance fees. Design patents last 14 years from the date you are granted the patent. Note: Patents in force on June 8 and patents issued thereafter on applications filed prior to June 8, 1995 automatically have a term that is the greater of the twenty year term discussed above or seventeen years from the patent grant.

How does one file protest on patents that are pending?

Protests by a member of the public against pending applications will be referred to the examiner having charge of the subject matter involved. A protest specifically identifying the application to which the protest is directed will be entered in the application file if: (1) The protest is submitted prior to the publication of the application or the mailing of a notice of allowance under rule 1.311, whichever occurs first; and (2) The protest is either served upon the applicant in accordance with rule 1.248, or filed with the Office in duplicate in the event service is not possible.

How long does it take for a patent application to be processed?

Currently, the average patent application pendency is 24.6 months. Applications received in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are numbered in sequential order and the applicant will be informed within eight weeks of the application number and official filing date if filed in paper. If filed electronically, the application number is available within minutes.

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