In many countries a patent has a fixed term of twenty years from its date of filing, but patents in certain specific technical areas can lead to slightly longer lived protection.
A Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC) is a mechanism for extending the term of a patent to compensate innovators for the delays caused by seeking marketing authorization for medicinal and plant protection products.
In most circumstances, an SPC can extend the period of protection by up to five years beyond the usual 20 year patent term.
SPCs for medicinal and plant protection products can be obtained in all member states of the EU as well as in some other European countries, most notably Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. Patent term extensions are also available in limited circumstances in other jurisdictions around the world.