You’ve been through the process of patent drafting and prosecution, and you’ve been successful. You’ve paid the issue fee and now you have an issued U.S. patent, congratulations! The USPTO will send you a ribbon copy of your patent, which is a paperback copy with the USPTO ribbon and seal. But you’re not done with the USPTO yet. To keep your patent active and enforceable, you must remember to pay the maintenance fees. Failure to pay any one of the three maintenance fees will result in your patent expiring and becoming unenforceable.
The maintenance fees are due after the patent issue date as follows
and the amounts for a small entity as of July 1, 2019, are:
3 to 3.5 years————$800
7 to 7.5 years———–$1800
11 to 11.5 years——–$3700
You can’t pay them early.
You may also pay with a surcharge during the “grace periods” at
3.5 to 4 years———–$80
7.5 to 8 years———–$80
11.5 to 12 years——-$80
You must include both the patent number and corresponding application number with your maintenance fee payment; in the case of a reissue, include the reissue application number. The patent number is at the top of the first page of the patent ribbon copy, and the application number is a few lines down on that same page. Alternatively, you can look for your patent on the USPTO website. To do this, you can go to the ‘search patents’ page and enter your name as a search term. You can enter other information too if need be, like your town, etc.
If worse comes to worse, and you miss one of the time windows, you can reinstate your patent by making a delayed payment. You have to submit a petition and fees to the USPTO, along with a statement that the delay in payment of the maintenance fee was unintentional, and it must be signed. The fee for a small entity is $1000 as of July 1, 2019.
If you’re working with a patent professional they should keep track of the due dates for you and send you reminders. They can also help you try to reinstate your patent if you miss a payment.
For more information you can call Gearhart Law at 908-273-0700; we can help you with maintenance fees and other patent matters, both domestic and foreign.
Or you can visit the USPTO website at: