How Do Biotech Patents Work?

Biotech patents are a type of patent known as "utility" patents. Utility patents control the way that an item works and the way that item is used, rather than controlling the way that the item looks or feels. In the biotech industry, patents are incredibly important.

How and When Do Biotech Patents Expire?

A traditional utility patent will expire 20 years from the start of its patent term. But a biotech patent expires before then: a biotech patent expires 17 years from the start of its patent term. Biotech patents prevent anyone else from making a product that works and is used in the same way as your product. Once the patent expires, anyone can make something that's similar to your product.

Can a Patent Be Renewed?

While it's possible, the answer is generally "no." A patent cannot be renewed once it has expired, except through a Congressional act. The goal of a patent is to ensure that no one is able to control an important invention permanently. This is especially true of biotech inventions, which have the capacity to change the course of human health and quality of life.

Still, companies need to be encouraged to design new biotech projects. The 17 year patent window is intended for companies to take advantage of their exclusivity, even if it isn't permanent. The patent window is also why most companies have multiple products in their pipeline at once. As one product is coming up for expiration, they create another one.

How Do You Get a Biotech Patent?

As with other utilities, a biotech patent needs to be acquired through a complex patenting process. During the patenting process, the biotech project will need to be fully explained. Once the application is accepted, it will be compared to existing patents, so there aren't any issues with duplicate patents being filed.

The patent process can be a lengthy one, but patents are valuable to both a company and an individual. For companies, patents represent the unique products they can sell. For individuals, having patents filed under your name can make you more desirable to future employers.

Getting a biotech patent can be a lengthy and difficult process, but it's a rewarding one. For the next 17 years, you will have exclusive rights to your product. A biotech patent law firm can help you find out more about getting a biotech patent and (if necessary) defending your patent.