How to Find Out if a Product is Patented
Hi, this is Rich Goldstein. I’m a patent attorney, and I work with a lot of Amazon Sellers. Typically, they are concerned about whether they would be infringing a patent of a product that they’re looking at potentially producing. I think anytime someone is sourcing a product in the back of their mind is well, if it exists out there, do I have the right to do this? Figuring out whether you’re truly clear to make a product is pretty difficult. But sometimes you find the trick, or sometimes you find a little hack that can give you the go-ahead, and here is just one.
Search Google Patents For Expiration Date
So my tip for you, when you’re sourcing a product, is that patents expire and when the patent expires its fair game and so if you have a product that has a patent number on it, what you want to do is look up that patent. And there is an easy place to look up patents when you have the patent number. And that’s Google patents. If you’ve never heard of Google patents, it’s patents.google.com, and so once you look up the patent number, you’ll see when the application was filed, and when the application was granted.
How Long Are Patents Valid For?
So utility patents will naturally expire 20 years after the application was filed. Design patents 15 years after the application was granted. So if you find that the patent was from 20 years ago or so and you realize that it’s expired, you’re free to make exactly what’s in that patent. And no one can stop you. But that doesn’t mean you could necessarily make the same product that’s on the market because they may have improved it. There may be patents on some of the improvements that took place since that original patent. The one thing that you did learn, though, by looking up the patent is whatever is actually in that patent whatever version is shown there. You’re free to do it.
Look Up Maintenance Fee Status
And there is another sub tip here, which is that even though patent’s expired naturally in that time frame, utility patents sometimes expire early because the inventor didn’t pay the maintenance fees. So what you want to do is look up the maintenance fee status, and the way to do that is just Google, US PTO Maintenance Fees. That’ll pull up the United States patent office maintenance fee website. You can put in the patent number and other information and it’ll tell you whether the fees have been paid. And if the fees have not been paid and the patent expired early, then the same situation is fair game. I hope this tip has been helpful. And you can find a lot of other great content and information about selling on Amazon on Amazing.com And you can find out more information about patents on my website goldsteinpatentlaw.com
Rich Goldstein is a U.S. patent attorney that works with Amazon Sellers to develop strategies to protect their brands and innovative products, and grow their businesses with IP. Since founding his firm, Goldstein Patent Law more than 25 years ago, he has obtained more than 2000 patents for his clients.