How Long Do Trademarks and Patents Last? A Guide for Inventors and Entrepreneurs

So you’ve come up with a brilliant new product or invention and want to protect your intellectual property. Smart thinking. Before diving into the legal details of patents and trademarks, you’re probably wondering how long these protections even last. As an inventor or entrepreneur, you’ve put in the work to develop something innovative and now want to reap the rewards. The good news is patents and trademarks can safeguard your creations for years. The specifics, though, depend on the type of IP and how diligent you are in maintaining it.

This guide will walk you through the nitty-gritty details of how long does a trademark last? So you can make the most of your inventions and brands. The team at Gearhart Law has helped countless clients navigate the ins and outs of intellectual property law. Now it’s your turn to learn the basics of how long you can defend what’s yours while continuing to profit from all your hard work. Let’s get started!

Introduction to Trademarks and Patents

Trademarks and patents protect your intellectual property, but how long do they last? A trademark typically lasts 10 years, but can be renewed indefinitely as long as you continue using it. Patents expire after 20 years. As an inventor or entrepreneur, you’ll want to keep renewing to maintain exclusive rights. Let your trademark or patent lapse, and competitors can swoop in.

So commit to the long game. Building a business takes time, and you’ll want your IP safeguarded for the journey. Renewing a trademark only takes a few minutes of paperwork and a small fee. For a patent, the process is more involved, but for a successful product, the investment is worth it. Value your IP – it’s the foundation of your business. With strong trademarks and patents in place for the long haul, you’ll have the protection and stability to grow.

How Long Does a Trademark Registration Last?

Trademark registrations typically last 10 years, but can be renewed indefinitely as long as you continue using the mark in commerce. To keep your trademark active, you’ll need to file a renewal application between the 5th and 6th year after the registration date.

As an entrepreneur, maintaining your trademark rights is important to protect your brand identity and intellectual property. Letting a trademark registration lapse can put you at risk of losing exclusive rights to the mark.

The renewal process is straightforward. You’ll submit an application verifying that the mark is still in use, pay the required fees, and your registration will be renewed for another 10-year period. Repeat this every decade and your trademark can essentially last forever.

Maintaining Your Trademark Rights

To keep your trademark in force, you’ll need to file renewal applications with the USPTO every 10 years. These renewal filings reaffirm that your mark is still being used in commerce. Failure to renew will result in your trademark being canceled and losing legal protection.

In between renewals, you must also continue using your trademark consistently and file affidavits of use. These affidavits confirm your ongoing use of the mark within the U.S. commerce. If a trademark is abandoned for 3+ years, it is subject to cancelation.

Staying on top of renewals, affidavits, and consistent use is key. Letting your trademark rights lapse can put years of building brand value and recognition in jeopardy. With some diligence, your trademark can remain valid indefinitely.

The Lifespan of a Patent – How Long Does a Patent Last?

So you’ve invested the time, money and energy into obtaining a patent—but actually how long does a patent last? In the U.S., utility patents and design patents have a lifespan of 20 years from the filing date. Once 20 years pass, your patent will expire and your invention will enter the public domain, meaning anyone can use, make or sell your invention without needing your permission.

Patent Renewal Strategies:

Prioritize Patents:

·         Identify key patents that are critical to your business and revenue streams.

·         Prioritize the renewal of patents that cover core technologies or products.

Portfolio Management:

·         Regularly review your patent portfolio to assess the value and relevance of each patent.

·         Consider pruning less valuable patents to allocate resources more efficiently.

Budget Planning:

·         Develop a budget for patent renewal costs.

·         Allocate resources based on the strategic importance of each patent.

Continuous Monitoring:

·         Stay informed about changes in the competitive landscape.

·         Monitor potential infringements and technological advancements that may affect the value of your patents.

Innovation and Improvement:

·         Continuously innovate and improve upon existing technologies.

·         File new patent applications to cover improvements, ensuring a fresh stream of protection.

Leverage Patent Analytics:

·         Use patent analytics tools to assess the strength and relevance of your patents.

·         Analyze market trends and competitor activities to make informed decisions.

Global Considerations:

·         Understand the renewal requirements in different jurisdictions.

·         Prioritize renewal in key markets where your products or services are most valuable.

Strategic Licensing or Sales:

·         Consider licensing or selling patents that are not core to your business.

·         Generate revenue or reduce costs by strategically leveraging your patent portfolio.

In-House Expertise:

·         Develop in-house expertise or collaborate with external experts to assess the technical and legal aspects of patent renewals.

Early Renewal:

·         Some jurisdictions allow for early renewal. Consider renewing patents ahead of time to streamline processes and reduce the risk of inadvertent lapses.

Innovation Disclosure Programs:

·         Encourage employees to participate in innovation disclosure programs to uncover potentially patentable inventions within the organization.

Document Management:

·         Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of all patents in your portfolio.

·         Ensure that renewal deadlines are well-documented and tracked.

Educate Stakeholders:

·         Educate key stakeholders within your organization about the importance of patents and the renewal process.

Legal Consultation:

·         Seek legal advice to navigate complex issues related to patent renewals, especially in international markets.

Collaborate with Industry Partners:

·         Explore collaboration opportunities with industry partners to share the costs and benefits of patent protection.

Gearhart Law Firm:

If you want the strongest protection for your intellectual property, Gearhart Law Firm is who you want in your corner. For over 25 years, their expert attorneys have helped startups and entrepreneurs secure and enforce patents, trademarks, and copyrights.


So there you have it, a quick overview of how long you can expect intellectual property like trademarks and patents to last. The key is to make sure you renew them on time and follow all the rules to keep them active. While 20 years of patent protection or 10 years of trademark registration may seem like a long time, it’ll be over before you know it. The good news is if you stay on top of the required filings and fees, you can essentially extend them forever. Now you’ve got the knowledge, so get out there and turn your idea into a real business. Make something people want, build a brand they’ll remember, and create an invention that could change the world. The possibilities are endless if you take that first step to legally protect your creations. Go get ’em!