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Road to nowhere? When EP patent applications are still pending over 20 years from filing

epologoA patent is a legal right enabling the owner to stop someone else making use of an invention. Once granted a patent will provide the owner the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling, importing or distributing the patented invention without permission for a period of up to 20 years from filing (assuming the renewal fees continue to be paid).

So far so good, right? But what happens when a patent application doesn’t make it to grant within the period of 20 years from filing? What happens then? And why would you still want to prosecute a patent application for 20 years anyway? (more…)