A patent maintenance fee is the fee that is required to be paid to the Patent Office, after issuance of a utility patent, in order to maintain the patent and keep the patent from falling into the pubic domain. Maintenance fees must be paid for utility patents issued on applications filed on or after December 12, 1980.
A patent Maintenance fees are required to be paid in order to keep the patent term running for utility patents. Maintenance fees are not required for plant patents and design patents. Likewise, maintenance fees are not required for a reissue patent if the patent being reissued did not require maintenance fees in the first place.
There are three maintenance fee payments that must be made in order to ensure the patent term remains in tact Maintenance fees or renewal fees are fees that are paid to maintain a granted patent in force. Some patent laws require the payment of maintenance fees for pending patent applications.
Not all patent laws require the payment of maintenance fees and different laws provide different regulations concerning not only the amount payable but also the regularity of the payments. In countries where maintenance fees are to be paid annually, they are sometimes called patent annuities.
Patent maintenance fees in the United States are due 3 1/2, 7 1/2 and 11 1/2 years after grant of the patent. No maintenance fees are due while an application is pending.
The following information concerning patent maintenance fees is available in USPTO about the Description of maintenance fees, Current amounts of maintenance fees, Maintenance fee transmittal form, Maintenance Fee Branch points of contact regarding maintenance fee payments and List of Expired Patents for Failure to Pay patent Maintenance Fees.