Schedule of patent maintenance fees
After issuance of a utility patent, maintenance fees are due 3 ½ years, 7 ½ years and 11 ½ years after the date of patent grant. There are no maintenance fees for design patents and plant patents. The maintenance fees are progressively larger as the patent term progresses. If the maintenance fees are not timely paid then the patent will become expired. Unless the patent is reinstated, the expired patent cannot be asserted against competitors from making, using, selling, offering for sale and importing the invention disclosed in the expired patent.
Reinstating expired patent for failure to pay maintenance fees
If the patent has expired for failure to pay the maintenance fees then, in certain circumstances, a petition may be submitted to the Patent Office to accept a late payment of the maintenance fees to reinstate the patent. Upon acceptance of the petition, the patent will not be considered expired. However, the reinstated patent may not be effective against competitors who have made preparations to compete during expiration of the patent.
The Patent Office may send a reminder notice to patent owners to pay an upcoming maintenance fee. However, the Patent Office does not have a duty to send patent owners reminders. Accordingly, patent owner should take steps to ensure timely payment of maintenance fees.
I invite you to contact me with your patent questions at (949) 433-0900 or [email protected]. Please feel free to forward this article to your friends. As an Orange County Patent Attorney, I serve Orange County, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and surrounding cities.