Last Published: 2/25/2021

 A U.S. utility patent, explained above, is generally granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed; however, periodic fees are required to maintain the enforceability of the patent. U.S. design patents resulting from applications filed on or after May 13, 2015 have a 15 year term from the date of grant; however, patents issued from design applications filed before May 13, 2015 have a 14 year term from the date of grant..

A U.S. trademark generally lasts as long as the trademark is used in commerce and defended against infringement.

Copyright protection is for a limited term. For works created after January 1, 1978, copyrights last for 70 years after the death of the author. For works "made for hire" (covering the usual type of work owned by a small business), the copyright lasts for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For more detailed explanation of copyright terms, visit the Copyright Office webpage or consult this guide on Duration of Copyright provided by the Copyright Office.

A trade secret can be protected indefinitely as long as the secret is commercially valuable, its value derives from the fact that it is secret, and the owner take reasonable precautions to maintain its secrecy.