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2701    Patent Term [R-07.2015]

35 U.S.C. 154   Contents and term of patent; provisional rights.

  • (a) IN GENERAL.—
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    • (2) TERM.—Subject to the payment of fees under this title, such grant shall be for a term beginning on the date on which the patent issues and ending 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, if the application contains a specific reference to an earlier filed application or applications under section 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) from the date on which the earliest such application was filed.
    • (3) PRIORITY.—Priority under section 119, 365(a), 365(b), 386(a), or 386(b) shall not be taken into account in determining the term of a patent.

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  • (c) CONTINUATION.—
    • (1) DETERMINATION.—The term of a patent that is in force on or that results from an application filed before the date that is 6 months after the date of the enactment of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act shall be the greater of the 20-year term as provided in subsection (a), or 17 years from grant, subject to any terminal disclaimers.
    • (2) REMEDIES.—The remedies of sections 283, 284, and 285 shall not apply to acts which —
      • (A) were commenced or for which substantial investment was made before the date that is 6 months after the date of the enactment of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act; and
      • (B) became infringing by reason of paragraph (1).
    • (3) REMUNERATION.—The acts referred to in paragraph (2) may be continued only upon the payment of an equitable remuneration to the patentee that is determined in an action brought under chapter 28 and chapter 29 (other than those provisions excluded by paragraph (2)).

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For applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, Section 532(a)(1) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (Public Law 103-465, 108 Stat. 4809 (1994)) amended 35 U.S.C. 154 to provide that the term of a patent (other than a design patent) begins on the date the patent issues and ends on the date that is twenty years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, if the application contains a specific reference to an earlier filed application or applications under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c), twenty years from the filing date of the earliest of such application(s). This patent term provision is referred to as the “twenty-year term.” Design patents have a term of fourteen years from the date of patent grant, except for any design patent issued from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 (the date of entry into force of the 1999 Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (“Hague Agreement”) as to the United States) has a term of fifteen years from the date of patent grant (see Public Law 112-211). See 35 U.S.C. 173 and MPEP § 1505. Under the Hague Agreement, qualified applicants may apply for design protection in the Contracting Parties to the Hague Agreement by filing a single, standardized international design application in a single language. Therefore, the term “design patents” includes patents issued from design applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111 and international design applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 385. The Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, Public Law 112-112, which implemented the provisions of the Hague Agreement, amended 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(2) to delete "section 120, 121, or 365(c)" and to insert "section 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c)" and 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(3) to delete "section 119, 365(a), or 365(b)" and to insert "section 119, 365(a), 365(b), 386(a), or 386(b)."

All patents (other than design patents) that were in force on June 8, 1995, or that issued on an application that was filed before June 8, 1995, have a term that is the greater of the “twenty-year term” or seventeen years from the patent grant. See 35 U.S.C. 154(c). A patent granted on an international application filed before June 8, 1995, and which entered the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371 before, on or after June 8, 1995, will have a term that is the greater of seventeen years from the date of grant or twenty years from the international filing date or any earlier filing date relied upon under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c). The terms of these patents are subject to reduction by any applicable terminal disclaimers (discussed below).

I.CONTINUING APPLICATIONS

A patent granted on a continuation, divisional, or continuation-in-part application that was filed on or after June 8, 1995, will have a term which ends twenty years from the filing date of earliest application for which a benefit is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) regardless of whether the application for which a benefit is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, or 365(c) was filed prior to June 8, 1995.

II.INTERNATIONAL APPLICATIONS

A patent granted on an international application filed on or after June 8, 1995 and which enters the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371 will have a term which ends twenty years from the filing date of the international application. A continuation or a continuation-in-part application claiming benefit under 35 U.S.C. 365(c) of an international application filed under 35 U.S.C. 363 designating the United States will have a term which ends twenty years from the filing date of the parent international application.

III.FOREIGN PRIORITY

Foreign priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d), 365(a), 365(b), 386(a), or 386(b) is not considered in determining the term of a patent. Accordingly, an application claiming priority under 35 U.S.C. 365(a), 365(b), 386(a), or 386(b) has a term which ends twenty years from the filing date of the application in the United States and not the prior international application or international design application.

IV.DOMESTIC BENEFIT UNDER 35 U.S.C. 119(e)

Domestic priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to one or more U.S. provisional applications is not considered in the calculation of the twenty-year term. See 35 U.S.C. 154(a)(3).

V.EXPIRATION DATE OF PATENTS WITH TERMINAL DISCLAIMERS

To determine the “original expiration date” of a patent subject to a terminal disclaimer, it is generally necessary to examine the language of the terminal disclaimer in the patent file history. If the disclaimer disclaims the terminal portion of the term of the patent which would extend beyond the expiration date of an earlier issued patent, then the expiration date of the earlier issued patent determines the expiration date of the patent subject to the terminal disclaimer. Before June 8, 1995, the terminal disclaimer date was printed on the face of the patent; the date was determined from the expected expiration date of the earlier issued patent based on a seventeen year term measured from grant. When 35 U.S.C. 154 was amended such that all patents (other than design patents) that were in force on June 8, 1995, or that issued on an application that was filed before June 8, 1995, have a term that is the greater of the “twenty year term” or seventeen years from the patent grant, the terminal disclaimer date as printed on many patents became incorrect. If the terminal disclaimer of record in the patent file disclaims the terminal portion of the patent subsequent to the full statutory term of a referenced patent (without identifying a specific date), then the date printed on the face of the patent is incorrect when the full statutory term of the referenced patent is changed as a result of 35 U.S.C. 154(c). That is, the referenced patent’s “twenty year term” is longer than the seventeen year term. In such a case, a patentee may request a Certificate of Correction under 37 CFR 1.323 to correct the information printed on the face of the patent. See Bayer AG v. Carlsbad Tech., Inc., 298 F.3d 1377, 64 USPQ2d 1045 (Fed. Cir. 2002). However, if the terminal disclaimer of record in the patent file disclaims the terminal portion of the patent subsequent to a specific date, without reference to the full statutory term of a referenced patent, then the expiration date is the date specified. But a patent term extension under 35 U.S.C. 156 may be applied to patent that is subject to a terminal disclaimer. See Merck & Co. v. Hi-Tech Pharmacal Co., 482 F.3d 1317, 82 USPQ2d 1203 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

Several decisions related to disclaimers are posted in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) section of the USPTO website (www.uspto.gov).

VI.PATENT TERM EXTENSIONS OR ADJUSTMENTS

See MPEP § 2710et seq. for patent term extensions or adjustments for delays within the USPTO under 35 U.S.C. 154 for utility and plant patents issuing on applications filed on or after June 8, 1995. Patents that issue from applications filed before June 8, 1995, are not eligible for patent term extension or patent term adjustment under 35 U.S.C. 154.

See MPEP § 2750et seq. for patent term extensions available under 35 U.S.C. 156 for premarket regulatory review. The patent term extension that may be available under 35 U.S.C. 156 for premarket regulatory review is separate from and will be added to any extension that may be available under former and current 35 U.S.C. 154. While patents that issue from applications filed before June 8, 1995, are not eligible for term adjustment under 35 U.S.C. 154, such patents may be extended under 35 U.S.C. 156.

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Last Modified: 11/04/2015 11:01:48