Patent Maintenance Fees

Patent maintenance fees are paid to the USPTO to maintain a granted utility patent.  Maintaining a utility patent is similar to renewing a trademark registration except that patents expire whereas trademark registrations may be renewed indefinitely.

If a maintenance fee deadline has passed, the maintenance fee can still be paid within the 6-month grace period after the maintenance deadline by adding the USPTO surcharge fee.  If the surcharge period has already passed, a petition to reinstate the expired patent must be filed within two years of the grace period deadline on the basis of an unintentional delay. Appropriate fees must be filed along with a petition to accept the unintentionally delayed payment of the maintenance fee.

Maintenance Fee Deadlines

Maintenance fee deadlines are counted from the grant date of the utility patent and comprised of:

  1. First maintenance fee due at 3 1/2 years;
  2. Second maintenance fee due at 7 1/2 years; and
  3. Third maintenance fee due at 11 1/2 years.

Each maintenance fee is payable during a 6-month window ending on the above anniversaries from the grant date.

Can a patent be renewed?

No, patents are not renewed. Technically speaking, they are “maintained” in the sense that the patent owner must pay periodic taxes to the US government to keep an issued utility patent in force until expiration which is generally 20 years from the filing date.

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Vic Lin

Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney | IP Lead Partner at Innovation Capital Law Group
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