Before 1995, the term of a U.S. utility patent was 17 years from the day the patent issued. In 1994, the federal statutes were changed to make the patent term 20 years from the effective filing date of the patent application. This change was part of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act and was intended to make U.S. patents comparable to foreign patents, which, in most countries, expire 20 years from their filing dates.
However, in order to address the problem of delays caused by the Patent and Trademark Office during the prosecution of a patent, Congress enacted statutes providing for the addition of specific numbers of days to a patent’s term. See 35 U.S.C. section 154(b).
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