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Patents Revisited

I thought I would revisit patents briefly today to share a few more facts about what’s available to you as a product creator. Most people don’t realize it, but when a patent expires, it falls into the Public Domain. This is important to remember for one simple reason: The longest a patent (utility patent) can remain in force is 20 years (17 years depending on when it was filed), with some patents (such as design patents) lasting just 14 years. What that means for you is this: Every patent filed before June 1988 is expired and in the Public Domain. Some estimate that there are now over 1.5 million expired patents, although that number must certainly be higher.

Another little known fact about expired patents is this: If a patent holder fails to pay the required maintenance fees for maintaining current patent status (3 yrs., 7 yrs., & 11 yrs. after filing), the patent will expire and fall ito the Public Domain. Patents that expire in this fashion are published in the weekly United States Patent Official Gazette. You can also search through them using the free, online database, Latepatents.net.

What makes this information SO exciting is our ability to literally plug into the creative genius of so many individuals…for free! If you’ve ever read a patent, you’ll know that it includes drawings of the invention and a detailed description of how the invention works. So, as you can imagine, the possibility for product creation is, once again, nearly endless.

For more information on patents, look elsewhere on this blog, or check out my ebook on Patents over at Tony’s Yard Sale (www.tonysyardsale.com).

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