Why don't patent specifications state their expiry date?
I was speaking to a friend the other day about freedom to operate clearances and she raised an incredibly good point:
Why don’t patent specifications quote the patent’s expiry date on their front cover? This is one of the most important facts about a patent, yet no patent office publishes this on the document.
- If the patent office is concerned about getting it wrong, then there’s an even bigger issue at stake;
- If its because the expiry date is simple to work out – then that’s probably not so simple. Many North American patents are still under the old 17 years from grant system, and Divisionals / Continuations etc take their term from the date of filing the original parent – which is not always evident from the specification (and nor is the priority date always available on the front page).
The system would be even better if any term adjustments were also noted, for example by republishing the front page if an extension of term is granted, etc.
This, I’m sure would increase certainty about patent rights for the general community.
What do you think?