Can a patent be renewed?

No, you cannot renew a patent in the US. Technically speaking, US utility patents are maintained, not renewed. The connotation of patent maintenance is that there is an end to the patent term, whereas “renewal” implies an indefinite term that continues indefinitely. Patents cannot go on forever, not in the US or anywhere else. As long as you understand that patents will expire, then “patent renewal” may be considered a layman’s term for the more technical term of patent maintenance. Patents cannot be renewed once their terms expire.

When are patent maintenance deadlines?

After a utility patent is granted, there are a total of three maximum maintenance fees that must be paid to keep the issued patent alive:

  1. First maintenance fee: due at 3.5 year anniversary;
  2. Second maintenance fee: due at 7.5 year anniversary; and
  3. Third maintenance fee: due at 11.5 year anniversary.

What if a maintenance fee deadline is missed?

It is possible to pay a late patent maintenance fee with a penalty surcharge as long as you’re still within the 6-month grace period.

How much are patent maintenance fees?

For a small entity (e.g., company with fewer than 500 employees), the USPTO patent maintenance fees are:

  • 1st maintenance fee: $800
  • 2nd maintenance fee: $1,800
  • 3rd maintenance fee: $3,700

Notice how the cost of each successive maintenance fee increases in price. Our firm charges flat rates for paying maintenance fees and filing patent and trademark applications.

How to maintain a patent

Design patents require no maintenance, so only utility patents have maintenance deadlines. The proper maintenance fee must be paid in the 6-month window ending upon the deadlines outlined above. Maintenance fees may electronically paid through the USPTO website.

If you can’t renew patents, then how can you prolong patent rights?

If you cannot renew a patent, are there ways to extend or prolong patent rights? You cannot reapply for the same invention covered in an existing patent. You can, however, file patent applications for improvements and modifications. The extent of your changes will determine whether your new patent application will be considered non-obvious over prior patents.

Patent annuities: foreign patent renewals

In foreign countries, a common term used to refer to keeping a granted patent alive is patent annuity. Keep in mind that patent annuity can also refer to a yearly tax to keep a pending patent application alive. Unlike the US, certain foreign patent offices will charge you an annual tax to keep your patent application pending.

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Vic Lin

Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney | IP Lead Partner at Innovation Capital Law Group
If you are a startup or small business, we want to help. Our mission is to equip entrepreneurs with solid IP rights that facilitate funding, growth and sales. Let's get to work! Direct: 949.223.9623 | Email: vlin@icaplaw.com