posts public-domain inventions

Patents require regular ‘maintenance’ payments to keep them in force. Because the cost of maintaining large patent portfolios can be substantial, many companies elect to abandon patents that they feel are not worth pursuing. Sometimes these patents are abandoned because they are outside a company’s focus, and in other cases they may represent markets too small for larger companies to justify targeting.

The upside of abandoned patents is that the inventions they describe enter the public domain prematurely, on abandonment rather than 20-years from filing, and they can allow outside parties to leverage the cutting-edge research from leading labs. Accordingly, some of the patents abandoned by large companies may nonetheless be very valuable for smaller enterprises.

Leveraging data I collect for DrugPatentWatch and PatentStat, I have launched a new site at that provides regular updates of patents which expired prematurely due to lack of maintenance payments, in 33 different industry sectors.

These abandoned inventions are in the public domain, and may provide opportunities for open-source projects or small and medium-sized companies to leverage the inventions which larger companies abandoned.

Biotechnology patents can be found in the biotechnology category, or by tracking individual companies, such as Agilent, DuPont, or Wyeth.

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