MPEP Q & A 13: Term of Utility vs. Design Patent

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Question:

What is the term of a utility patent versus the term of a design patent?

Answer:

The term of a utility patent on an application filed on or after June 8, 1995 is 20 years measured from the U.S. filing date; or if the application contains a specific reference to an earlier application, 20 years from the earliest effective U.S. filing date, while the term of a design patent is 15 years measured from the date of grant, if the design application was filed on or after May 13, 2015 (or 14 years if filed before May 13, 2015).

Chapter Details:

The answer to this question can be found in chapter 1500 of the MPEP. This chapter covers Design Patents.

The answer is from the 9th Edition, Revision 07.2015. Depending on future changes to the MPEP, the question and answer may or may not be applicable in later Editions or revisions.

Section Summary:

This question and answer comes from section 1502.01 of the MPEP.  The following is a brief summary of section 1502.01.

1502.01    Distinction Between Design and Utility Patents

In general terms, a “utility patent” protects the way an article is used and works,while a “design patent” protects the way an article looks. This section further outlines the common differences between design and utility patents.

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