Patent Maintenance Fees

US Patent and Trademark Office

Patent Maintenance Fees

Just so you know. When you finally get that patent, your fees are not over.

There are three patent maintenance fee payments that must be made during the life of your patent to keep it in force. These fees are due at 3 ½, 7 ½ and 11 ½ years from the date the patent is granted.

Maintenance fee law uses the language of a "window-period". Your maintenance fee can be paid without a surcharge during the "window-period" which is the six month period preceding each due date, e.g., 3 years to 3 years and six months. Then there is a 6-month grace period during which the maintenance fee may be paid but with a surcharge.

The US Patent and Trademark Office does not mail notices to patent owners that patent maintenance fees are due. If, however, the maintenance fee is not paid on time, efforts are made to remind the responsible party that the maintenance fee may be paid during the grace period with a surcharge.

Note - if you obtained your patent through the services of a patent agent or patent attorney it is common practice for them to monitor maintenance fees to ensure you pay. Be sure to ask your agent if he/she does that for you.

So What Are the Fees?

Here are the Maintenance Fees as of April 2015: 
(Small Entity)

    3.5 years______________$ 800.00

    7.5 years______________$ 1,800.00

    11.5 years_____________$ 3,700.00


    3.5 year_______________$ 80.00

    7.5 year_______________$ 80.00

    11.5 year______________$ 80.00

    Petition for Delayed payment

                                                          $ 850.00

So Why Do They Do This?

It would be easy to answer - "So the US Patent Office can make some more money." Fair enough. but there is an important concept behind the fees. Patent Law has an underlying premise of wanting to make technology available to the public as soon as possible. Note the escalating fees. A patent owner who is not making use of his/her patent sees the higher fees coming in the future and often elects to let the patent go abandoned early - freeing it up to the public. Many, many patents are abandoned in this way. So the system works.

And one other thought. If you chaff at the thought of paying a maintenance fee every four years - consider the European Patent Office and the Canadian Patent Office. Both begin hitting you with an annual maintenance fee after you file - and you often have to pay that fee for a few years while your application languishes in a back room in those patent offices.


Patent Maintenance Fees
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