Annuity fees, also known as renewal fees or maintenance fees, are payments made to patent offices to keep a granted patent in force. Patent and trademark offices (PTOs) determine these fees according to their country's current patent laws. In the United States, these payments are typically due at intervals of 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years from the actual filing date. In most cases for large entities, the fees are set at $1,600, $3,600, and $7,400 respectively. These amounts often decrease depending on the size of the patent owner. Despite the fact that it is important these payments be made on time, there is a grace period during which patent owners can pay these fees later at a surcharge.
Depending on the size of the patent owner, the exact amount of annuity fees may vary. Even though all entities must pay annuity fees at the same intervals, their amounts differ. Large entities will pay $1,600, $3,600 and $7,400 at each payment interval. These entities are typically defined as companies with at least 500 employees. Alternatively, small entities, which classify as small businesses or individuals with less than 500 employees, pay $800, $1,800, and $3,700 respectively. Lastly, micro entities are required to pay $400, $900, and $1,850 at each payment interval. Micro entities must meet certain criteria, such as not being named on more than four patents and having gross income less than three times the United States median household income.
Imagine you did not realize the six-month grace period to pay your maintenance fee has lapsed, and your intellectual property is at risk of losing its patent. Fortunately, this does not mean your patent is gone for good. Even after the six-month grace period has ended, it is still possible to reinstate your patent if you can prove that the payment delay was unintentional. According to the USPTO, the patent must submit a signed statement establishing that the delay was “unintentional” along with the required payment and petition filing fee.
All patent owners, regardless of their size, are prone to mistakes and misunderstandings when it comes to patent maintenance fees. In order to prevent costly miscommunications, it is highly advised to seek the assistance of a skilled intellectual property lawyer that will help guide you through the complicated realm of annuity fees. Get in touch with top IP attorneys as soon as possible with Attorney at Law.