The sad tale of the expired fidget spinner patent

Glenn W. Peterson

Fidget spinners are the newest fad in California and states across the country. Go to any social media site, and you will see people posting things about them. Some people love them, and others hate them (many of which are teachers whose classes have been interrupted by these toys). However, despite the feelings about fidget spinners, they are hot right now. It seems that they came out of nowhere, too. One day, they were just suddenly the biggest thing everyone was talking about. There is a really good reason for this.

According to The Street, the patent for fidget spinners was held by Catherine Hettinger until very recently when it expired. Since then, other people have gained access to the design and have begun freely manufacturing and selling their versions. Unfortunately, because her patent expired, the original inventor has not been able to recoup any of the profits these other manufacturers have earned from their spinners, which are selling like hotcakes. She is trying to get funds to start making her own version, but for now, she has to watch everyone else profit off her idea.

Anyone who has a patent could face the same fate. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a utility patent term is 20 years. However, a patent may expire before the end of the term if required maintenance fees are not paid when due. Such fess are typically due around three, seven and 11 years after the initial filing of the patent. Design and plant patents do not have maintenance fees, so they are not subject to expiring until the full protection term ends.