Maintain Your Patent


Pay the Maintenance Fee

Maintenance fee payments must include both the patent number and corresponding application number. For a reissue patent number, the application number required is the reissue application number. Fees are subject to change. The current fee amounts are available on the USPTO fee schedule.

Please use one of the following four options:

  1. Pay online - Visit the Office of Finance Online Shopping Page and use a credit/debit card, deposit account, or EFT payment method.
  2. Pay by wire - See the instructions for sending a wire payment to the USPTO.
  3. Pay by fax - Complete the Maintenance Fee Transmittal form and Credit Card Payment Form (if paying with a credit/debit card), and fax to 571-273-6500.
  4. Pay by mail - Complete the Maintenance Fee Transmittal form and Credit Card Payment Form (if paying with a credit/debit card), and mail to:

Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Attn: Maintenance Fees
2051 Jamieson Avenue, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314

Note if you pay by mail:  The “St. Louis, MO 63197-9000” mailing address is no longer in use. Checks or money orders should be made payable to the “Director of the USPTO”. The payment date will be the date received at the USPTO unless you are using the certificate of mailing procedure set forth in 37 CFR 1.8, or the USPS Priority Mail Express procedure set forth in 37 CFR 1.10.


Update the Entity Status or Fee Address

Private PAIR users may submit entity status or address change requests online, which are processed immediately. The application must be associated to your customer number, or the attorney or agent of record must have been given power of attorney. (See the Change Entity Status, Update Application Address or Create New Customer Number Quick Start Guide for more information.) Other users will still need to submit change requests using the methods below.

If you are paying a patent maintenance fee online or by wire, and the entity status or fee address needs to be updated, a recognized party must submit the change request which may be sent using EFS-Web (registered users only) or by fax to the Maintenance Fee Branch at 571-273-6500. Please allow 5-7 business days for your request to be processed before attempting to pay your maintenance fee. If you are paying by fax or mail, the change requests should be included with your maintenance fee payment.

Maintenance fees are reduced by 50 or 75 percent if the owner of the invention qualifies as a small or micro entity, such as independent inventors, small businesses, or nonprofit organizations. A written assertion of entitlement to small entity status or certification of micro entity status must be filed prior to or at the time of paying a maintenance fee and signed by a recognized party (see 37 CFR 1.27 and 1.29). If you qualify, form SB/15A or SB/15B should be used to make a proper certification of micro entity status. Notification of a change in status resulting in a loss of entitlement to small or micro entity status must be filed prior to or at the time of paying the maintenance fee.

A fee address can be established by submitting the “Fee Address” Indication Form to have correspondence related solely to maintenance fees mailed to a different address than the correspondence address for the application. (If you have no Customer Number, the Request for Customer Number form must also be completed and will result in a delay processing the “Fee Address” Indication Form.) If you do not want to establish a fee address for maintenance fee purposes, the correspondence address can be updated by submitting the Change of Correspondence Address (Patent) form.


Check the Current Status of a Patent

Bibliographic data, payment dates, and the fee amounts due for a specific patent are available through the Office of Finance Online Shopping Page.

Weekly lists of patents for which maintenance fees may now be paid and of patents expired for failure to pay maintenance fees are available through the Official Gazette. Choose the year and week of interest, and select the "Notice of Maintenance Fees Payable" or the "Notice of Expiration of Patents Due to Failure to Pay Maintenance Fee" link.


Reinstate an Expired Patent

If a maintenance fee has not been paid in a timely manner and the owner of the patent wants to get the patent rights reinstated, a petition and proper fees are required. Any petition to accept an unintentionally delayed payment of a maintenance fee must include:  1) the required maintenance fee set forth in § 1.20(e) through (g); 2) the petition fee as set forth in § 1.17(m); 3) a statement that the delay in payment of the maintenance fee was unintentional; and 4) be signed in compliance with § 1.33(b).

A petition may be filed online by using the Web-based ePetition in EFS-Web (registered and unregistered users), which is automatically processed and granted immediately upon submission if the petition meets all of the requirements. Petitioners know instantly whether all requirements have been met. Find out more on the ePetition Resource Page (see pages 44-47 of the Web-based ePetition Quick Start Guide for step-by-step instructions).

A petition may also be filed in paper by completing the form and paying the proper fees; however, there are significant processing delays and the filing does not guarantee a granted petition. Please contact the Office of Petitions at 571-272-3282 for assistance on filing a petition to accept unintentional delayed payment of the maintenance fee by fax or mail.


General Information

A maintenance fee is a fee that is required for maintaining in force all utility and reissue utility patents based on applications filed on or after December 12, 1980. Generally, utility patents expire after 20 years from the application filing date subject to the payment of appropriate maintenance fees. If a maintenance fee is not paid the patent protection lapses and the rights provided by a patent are no longer enforceable. Maintenance fees are not required for a design or plant patent, or for statutory invention registrations (SIR).

Maintenance fees are due three times during the life of a patent, and may be paid without surcharge at 3 to 3.5 years, 7 to 7.5 years, and 11 to 11.5 years after the date of issue. The fee cannot be paid early.  Maintenance fees may also be paid with a surcharge during the "grace periods" at 3.5 to 4 years, 7.5 to 8 years, and 11.5 to 12 years after the date of issue.

If the last day for paying a maintenance fee or any applicable surcharge falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday, the fee may be paid on the succeeding day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday. 

It is the responsibility of the patentee to ensure the maintenance fee and any required surcharge are paid timely to prevent expiration of the patent. If the maintenance fee is not paid within the first six months in the year in which it can be paid, a Maintenance Fee Reminder notice is sent to the fee address or correspondence address on record. If the maintenance fee and any applicable surcharge are not paid by the end of the 4th, 8th, or 12th years after the date of issue, the patent rights lapse and a Notice of Patent Expiration is sent to the fee address or correspondence address on record. The failure to receive the notices will not shift the burden of monitoring the time for paying a maintenance fee from the patentee to the USPTO.  If a fee address has not been established, the notices are sent to the correspondence address.

If you need assistance, please contact the Maintenance Fee Branch by telephone at 571-272-6500.

 

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