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How long do my intellectual rights last?

When it comes to intellectual property, you have to look to the federal government for protection, not the state of California. While the state provides some intellectual property protections, the federal government mandates very specific protections and limits on those protections. Each type of intellectual property is protected in a different way. While some may have lasting protection, others have protection limited to a specific number of years.

One of the most common forms of intellectual property rights is the copyright. StopFakes.gov explains that a copyright granted after January 1, 1978, lasts for 70 years after the author dies. However, if the copyright is on made-for-hire works, then it lasts 85 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

The next most common protection is for patents; the two main types of patents are utility and design patents. A utility patent lasts 20 years from the date you file your patent application. Do note that this type of patent also requires regular maintenance fees. If you fail to pay them, you will lose your patent protection even if it has not been 20 years. For a design patent, you have protection for 14 years from when it was granted.

Next up is a trade secret. Trade secrets are protected as long as you keep them secret. Once shared it loses its status and protection.

Finally, there is the trademark. Much like the trade secret, this protection can last forever. You just need to keep using the trademark. When you stop using it, the protection is lost.

If you have further questions or need assistance with your intellectual property rights, then please contact our firm. The information provided here is for education and is not legal advice.

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