Abandoned Invention

Abandoned Invention
Abandoned Invention
Quick Summary of Abandoned Invention

An abandoned invention refers to an invention that an inventor has either intentionally stopped trying to exploit or has taken actions that prevent them from claiming the invention in a future patent. In patent law, this term is used to describe when an inventor gives up on or abandons their invention. This can occur if the inventor determines that the invention is not worth pursuing or if they fail to take the necessary steps to protect it. Once an inventor abandons their invention, they are unable to later claim it in a patent application. For instance, if an inventor develops a new type of machine but decides not to continue with it, they have effectively abandoned the invention. Consequently, they cannot attempt to patent the machine or assert ownership over it. However, abandoned inventions are not considered prior art to subsequent inventors unless they are publicly known. This implies that if another inventor comes up with the same idea later on, they can still obtain a patent for it as long as the abandoned invention is not publicly known. Additionally, abandoning an imperfect version of an invention does not prevent the patenting of a later-improved version. Therefore, if an inventor abandons an early iteration of their invention but later enhances it, they can still seek a patent for the improved version.

What is the dictionary definition of Abandoned Invention?
Dictionary Definition of Abandoned Invention

An abandoned invention refers to an idea or creation that an inventor has given up on or failed to pursue, which may hinder their ability to obtain a patent for it in the future. If an inventor abandons an imperfect version of their invention, they still have the opportunity to patent a later, improved version. A distinct invention is a component of an invention that can function independently, while an improvement invention is an enhancement of an existing device or process. An independent invention is an idea unrelated to any other invention, and a new-use invention involves discovering a new application for an existing invention. A software-based invention utilises innovative software to achieve desired outcomes and may be eligible for a patent.

Full Definition Of Abandoned Invention

The concept of an “abandoned invention” is significant in intellectual property law. This legal overview aims to elucidate the meaning, implications, and consequences of abandonment in the context of patent law, primarily focusing on the United Kingdom and providing some comparative insights from other jurisdictions. An invention’s abandonment can occur voluntarily or involuntarily, impacting the inventor’s rights and the public domain. This comprehensive analysis will cover definitions, causes, legal procedures, and ramifications of abandoned inventions.

Definition and Context

In legal terms, an abandoned invention is one for which the relevant patent office has withdrawn, abandoned, or deemed to have abandoned the patent application. This situation may arise at various stages of the patent application process. When an invention is abandoned, it typically enters the public domain, allowing others to use it without infringing on any exclusive rights that a patent would have conferred.

Causes of Abandonment

There are several reasons why an invention might be abandoned:

  1. Non-Payment of Fees: Patent applications and granted patents require the payment of various fees at different stages. Failure to pay these fees within the stipulated time can lead to abandoning the application or the granted patent.
  2. Failure to Respond to Office Actions: During the patent examination process, the patent office may issue office actions requiring the applicant to provide additional information or amend the application. Failure to respond to these actions within the specified period can result in the application being deemed abandoned.
  3. Voluntary Withdrawal: An applicant may choose to withdraw a patent application voluntarily. This decision might be based on strategic business considerations, a lack of commercial viability, or a determination that the invention does not meet patentability criteria.
  4. Failure to File Necessary Documents: Patent applications require various documents, including claims, specifications, and drawings. The application can be abandoned if the applicant fails to file these documents on time.
  5. Non-Compliance with Formal Requirements: Patent offices have stringent formal requirements. Non-compliance with these, such as incorrect form submissions or incomplete disclosures, can lead to abandonment.

Legal Procedures

United Kingdom

In the UK, patent applications, the abandonment process, and regulations are governed by the Patents Act 1977 and the Patents Rules 2007.

  1. Non-Payment of Renewal Fees: Under Section 25 of the Patents Act 1977, a patent can be deemed abandoned if the renewal fees are not paid by the due date. There is usually a grace period within which the fees can be paid with a surcharge, failing which the patent lapses.
  2. Non-Response to Office Actions: If the applicant does not respond to an examination report or other official communication from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) within the prescribed period, the application can be treated as withdrawn.
  3. Formalities and Documentation: The IPO provides clear guidelines on the documentation and formalities for a patent application. Failure to adhere to these can lead to abandonment.

United States

For comparison, similar principles apply in the United States under the Patent Act and the rules of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  1. Maintenance Fees: U.S. patents require maintenance fees to be paid at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after grant. Failure to pay these fees results in the patent expiring prematurely.
  2. Office Actions: Non-response to USPTO communications within the stipulated time frame results in the application being abandoned.

Consequences of Abandonment

For the Inventor

  1. Loss of Exclusive Rights: Once an invention is abandoned, the inventor loses the exclusive rights a patent would have provided. This means they cannot prevent others from making, using, or selling the invention.
  2. Financial Implications: Abandonment can result in financial loss, particularly if significant resources have been invested in developing and patenting the invention.
  3. Strategic Considerations: Sometimes, abandonment is a strategic decision. For instance, an inventor might abandon an application in one jurisdiction to focus on securing protection in another, more commercially significant region.

For the Public

  1. Public Domain: An abandoned invention enters the public domain, becoming freely available for public use. This can foster innovation, as others can build upon the abandoned invention without fear of infringement.
  2. Clarity and Legal Certainty: Abandonment can also provide legal certainty to competitors and other stakeholders, clarifying the invention’s status and allowing for more informed business decisions.

Legal Remedies and Reinstatement

In certain circumstances, it is possible to reinstate an abandoned patent application or patent. The criteria and procedures for reinstatement vary by jurisdiction.

United Kingdom

Under the UK Patents Act, reinstatement of a patent application is possible if the applicant can demonstrate that the failure to comply with a requirement was unintentional. The request for reinstatement must be made within a certain period after the application was deemed abandoned, typically within 12 months. The process involves:

  1. Filing a Request for Reinstatement: This includes providing evidence that the failure was unintentional and paying the prescribed fee.
  2. Re-examination by the IPO: The IPO will review the request and, if satisfied, will reinstate the application, allowing the applicant to proceed with the prosecution.

United States

In the US, reinstatement (or revival) of an abandoned application is possible under certain conditions:

  1. Unintentional Delay: The applicant must demonstrate that the delay in responding to an office action or paying fees was unintentional.
  2. Petition to Revive: The applicant must file a petition to revive, along with the required fee and a statement that the delay was unintentional. The USPTO will review the petition and, if it meets the criteria, will revive the application.

Comparative Jurisdictions

European Patent Office (EPO)

The EPO also provides mechanisms for addressing abandonment. If an applicant has missed a deadline, they can request further processing. This involves paying a fee and completing the omitted act within a specified period.

Japan Patent Office (JPO)

In Japan, the applicant can request the reinstatement of an abandoned application by providing a valid reason for the non-compliance and paying the required fee. The JPO assesses the request and, if justified, reinstates the application.

Strategic Considerations and Best Practices

  1. Diligence in Fee Payments: It is crucial to keep track of payment deadlines for application and maintenance fees. Reminders or professional services can help avoid unintentional abandonment.
  2. Timely Responses: Responding promptly to office actions and communications from the patent office can prevent abandonment due to non-compliance.
  3. Professional Advice: Consulting with patent attorneys or agents can help navigate the complexities of patent applications and avoid pitfalls that could lead to abandonment.
  4. Document Management: Proper management and timely submission of required documents are essential to maintaining the status of a patent application.
  5. Strategic Abandonment: In some cases, strategically abandoning an application might be beneficial. For example, if pursuing a patent in a particular jurisdiction is not economically viable, resources might be better allocated elsewhere.


The concept of an abandoned invention plays a critical role in patent law, influencing both inventors’ rights and knowledge availability to the public. Understanding abandonment’s causes, procedures, and consequences is essential for inventors, businesses, and legal practitioners. By adhering to best practices and staying informed about the requirements of various jurisdictions, the risks associated with patent abandonment can be mitigated. This legal overview highlights the importance of vigilance and strategic decision-making in the patent process to safeguard intellectual property rights and foster innovation.

Abandoned Invention FAQ'S

An abandoned invention refers to an idea, concept, or creation that has been left unattended or neglected by its creator without any intention of pursuing its development or protection.

In most cases, abandoned inventions are considered part of the public domain, meaning they are available for anyone to use or develop without seeking permission or paying royalties to the original creator.

If you come across an abandoned invention and wish to revive it, you may be able to claim ownership if you can demonstrate significant improvements or modifications to the original idea. However, it is advisable to consult with a patent attorney to understand the legal implications and requirements.

Generally, you cannot patent an abandoned invention since it is no longer considered the intellectual property of its original creator. However, if you make substantial improvements or modifications to the abandoned invention, you may be eligible to apply for a patent for your unique contribution.

Yes, you can typically use an abandoned invention without facing any legal consequences, as long as you do not infringe on any existing patents or intellectual property rights associated with the invention.

Since abandoned inventions are generally part of the public domain, you can sell or license them without seeking permission from the original creator. However, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional to ensure there are no potential legal issues or restrictions.

If you successfully revive an abandoned invention and obtain a patent for your improvements or modifications, you may be able to claim royalties from others who use or commercialize your unique contribution. However, this would not entitle you to royalties for the original abandoned invention itself.

No, you cannot be held liable for using an abandoned invention that someone else revived, as long as they have obtained the necessary patents or intellectual property rights for their unique improvements or modifications.

If you revive an abandoned invention and obtain a patent for your unique improvements or modifications, you can prevent others from using, manufacturing, or selling your specific version of the invention. However, you cannot prevent others from using the original abandoned invention itself.

In most cases, you cannot seek compensation from the original creator of an abandoned invention, as they have relinquished their rights and responsibilities associated with the invention. However, if there was a prior agreement or contract in place, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional to explore your options.

Related Phrases
Abandoned Experiment

This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th June 2024.

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