My father was granted a GB patent on an invention in 1983. The patent ceased through non-payment of renewal fee in 1989. Can I claim this patent and how would I go about it?

  • Can you clarify what you mean by "claim this patent". Are you trying to enforce it against someone? – Eric S Apr 2 '17 at 22:32

The patent term in GB is 20 years now. There is no way this patent can be revived as even if the fees had been paid it would have lapsed years ago.

I am not from the UK but a quick search turns up no shorter terms in 1983. I am certain however the term wasn't longer then.

  • As much as I agree with your answer, it doesn't quite answer the question. For one, can someone own an expired patent? If so what steps does he need to do to acquire it. – Eric S Apr 3 '17 at 14:26
  • I don't know whether someone can own an expired patent, but a patent is a property right like any other. From the question I'm assuming the father is deceased. So the ownership of the patent would depend on how the father's assets were distributed. – CanisNebula Apr 4 '17 at 0:32

A patent is not an ordinary property - it is a negative right that during the term of the patent, you can prevent others from practicing the invention disclosed. Once the term is over, the right does not exist and the 'property' vanishes. So after the term is over, there is no way that anybody can claim that property. Ashok

  • I fear I must disagree. A patent is property. 35 USC 261: "Subject to the provisions of this title, patents shall have the attributes of personal property." Moreover, rights still exist after its expiry for infringement that occurs pre-expiry (for at least 6 years: 35 USC 286). The ownership of an expired patent can in principle be of quite some value. – Maca Apr 7 '17 at 6:38

Patents are personal property (Patents Act 1977 (UK) s 30(1)). On the owner's death, ownership will therefore pass according to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the owner's estate is administered.

However, the patent is now long expired. Moreover, because any offences infringement while it was validly occured far longer than six years ago (Limitation Act 1980 (England/Wales)), there are likely no rights remaining attached to the patent, in any case.

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