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How long do intellectual property rights last?

There are many different options that you can choose from when it comes to protecting your creative works. There are copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets. You may sue anyone who uses any of these without your permission. Your intellectual property rights don't remain in effect forever. You should familiarize yourself with how long they do, though.

Trademarks and trade secret protections remain in effect the longest. A mark's owner can use and defend it against infringement for as long as it's an active part of the commercial process. Trade secrets protections also remain in effect as long as the proprietary information remains commercially valuable and the owner takes reasonable measures to protect it from interception.

Copyrights generally only remain in effect for 70 years following an author's death. The copyright on any "made for hire" works, including those owned by small businesses, remain in effect for 120 years post-creation or 95 years post-publication. Whichever date comes first is the one that prevails.

Design patents generally remain in effect for 14 years from the grant date. The validity of utility patents starts tolling from the time that the designer or owner files their application. It remains in effect for 20 years after that date. Patent holders may have to pay fees regularly to renew the enforceability of their intellectual property rights.

Intellectual property rights generally remain in effect for set amounts of time. There are some exceptions to these rules, though. If you've taken time to craft a creative work, then it's likely that you want to do everything possible to protect it from infringement. An intellectual property attorney can help you understand how long your rights are valid for and help you stay on top of any critical deadlines to ensure that it remains enforceable.

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