What is Patent Expiration?

Patent grant to an invention gives legal rights to its inventor to sell, develop or use the invention in any manner he wants. However, there is a specific time period for which the patent grant remains valid, when that time frame is crossed, the patent grant is said to be expired. Hence, patent expiration is when patents cross the expiry date of patent grant.

This article is written with a purpose to explain you everything about the patent expiration, so stay tuned and increase your wisdom.

Also read: What is Patent Registration?

Why do patents Expire?

Patents came into existence centuries ago to encourage innovation. As it grants inventors the right to prevent others from creating, selling, or exploiting their innovations. In exchange for this protection, innovators must openly publish their discoveries to improve the world’s common knowledge and pave the way for even more imaginative advances.

However, the potential of such exclusivity leads to bad results — such as stifled societal progress and lopsided economies — is always there. This is why it is must for every patent to have a patent expiration date. After this the invention enters the public domain i.e. anybody can now use the technology without paying licensing costs or suffering infringement threats.

Also read: What is Patent Monitoring?

What are the Effects of Patent Expiration?

As told earlier, patent grant gives you the rights to use patent in the manner you want, and if anyone infringes your patent rights i.e. uses your patent illegally you can sue him for infringement and demand legal monetary compensation.

However, once the expiry date of patents is crossed, the individual no longer enjoy exclusive rights over his invention and after patent expiration it becomes open to be used by everyone.

And when we say “open for use by anyone”, it means any organization can develop, redesign, market, and sell the patents after expiry without taking the permission of prior owner of patent.

Why Does It Matter?

Business opportunities

Knowing when a patent expires is crucial for strategic reasons. Patent expiration is when a patent expires, everyone can freely utilize the technology that was formerly protected. This brings up a multitude of opportunities for enterprises operating in the same market segment. Accurately forecasting when a given technology will become available allows others to better plan their market entry.

Patent holders that have products on the market can profit from this knowledge as well. It will help them to deal with the most typical repercussions of a technology entering the public domain more effectively:

  • The need to cut pricing in order to compete with new competitors who can now make their own versions of the product.
  • The need to reduce production volume in order to prevent the danger of huge volumes of unsold stock, which might result in lost profit.

Portfolio management and transactions

Patent transactions and mergers and acquisitions are also significantly impacted by expiration dates. Spending money and time in a portfolio heavy in expiring patents is not a wise business decision.

Furthermore, knowing when the patents in a portfolio will expire help owners determine the portfolio’s “age”. It is good to inform potential buyers in some cases about how many patents are “young” (3-5 years from filing). Or how many are “old” (3-5 years to expiration), rather than disclosing exact dates.

This information can also assist owners determine whether to pause the maintenance of particular patents for budgetary reasons.

How To Deal With the Expired Patents?

When it comes to dealing with obsolete patents after patent expiration, it has two domains. The first one is dealing with the expired patents that you own. And the second one is dealing with the expired patents owned by your competitors or other organizations.


Starting with the expired patents, owned by you, when you obtain the patent rights it comes with a time tag of validity. And the patent offices like USPTO don’t provide the option to renew the patent after it crosses its expiry date.

However, other patent offices in other regions of world do provide the option of renewing the expired patents. So, once your patent expires, analyze is it beneficial to renew it? And if yes, then kindly see if it is renewable or not and proceed accordingly.


As stated earlier, expired patents are open to be used by anyone. Thus, it also means that expired patents bring new business opportunities for the players in the market. The only thing that matters most is “who capitalizes on important expired patents first?”

Hence using patent search services you can find the expired patents of your competitors and analyze the potential in them. If they offer promising future, redevelop, bring more innovation in the patents. And acquire new patent rights for them. It will give you revenue on the patents developed by your competitors.

Also read: Taking Paralegal help for Patent Search

How to Find Expired Patents?

Expired patents of your competitors have lot of hidden advantages in them. And the only way to exploit them is finding the relevant expired patents timely. Hence, you need to hire the patent search professionals who can find the potential expired patents that can help you raise your business. “Patent Paralegal Force” provides you with relevant patent services.

Our highly experienced search experts come from virtually all the possible technological areas. Whether the search is related with chemical structure, patent assignee, design patent, or biological sequence search, we provide everything to you. Our clients believe in us as our motto is, “Excellence in every engagement”.

Other related articles:

Patent Invalidity Searches

Trademark: The ultimate guide you need in 2022

Understanding the nitty-gritty of design patent applications

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