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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hey everyone, I’m J.D. Houvener, USPTO patent attorney and CEO here at bold patents law firm. Today I’ll be talking about how long the different forms of IP last. First, let’s start off with what the four different types of intellectual property are: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

First off, patents. Briefly, what are they? Well, patents are about inventions. Patents protect utility and design inventions. Utility inventions are what make it functional. If you’ve invented something with a functional benefit, you’re going for a utility patent, and that gives you 20 years of protection from the date of the first filing. Once granted, you have around 17 or 18 years of lifespan. For design patents, they protect what something looks like, and you get 15 years of protection after the grant.

Second, trademarks. Trademarks are those brands that we all know of, like Nike, Adidas, and Nordstrom. Brands can last as long as the company does, so technically, they last forever as long as the company and the brand are around. However, brands need to be careful not to become genericized, like Kleenex. Companies need to ensure that their brands don’t become genericized to maintain their distinctiveness.

Third, copyrights. Copyrights protect artists who create their own works. The only requirement for copyright is that the work needs to be fixed in a tangible means, stored either digitally or in physical form. Copyright duration is 70 years plus the life of the author. Once registered, it provides prima facie evidence, making it easier to enforce.

Fourth, trade secrets. Trade secrets can last forever as long as the secret remains a secret. To have a trade secret, three things must be true: it’s not known by the general public, efforts are made to keep it secret, and it must be economically valuable to a competitor.

Last but not least, there is a category of privacy law within intellectual property, and this includes the concept of image and likeness. This is important for famous individuals to prevent others from commercializing their image. Image and likeness are separate from trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. It’s a way to extend intellectual property rights to an individual’s likeness.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson on how long patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and image and likeness can last. I’m J.D. Houvener, CEO and Managing Partner here at bold IP. We’re here to help, so if you have questions, feel free to comment below. Enjoy the video, grab our free book, and schedule your no-cost consultation. Take care, have a good day, and go big go bold.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at