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2580    Review of Decision Refusing to Accept and Record Payment of a Maintenance Fee Filed Prior to Expiration of Patent [R-08.2012]

37 C.F.R. 1.377   Review of decision refusing to accept and record payment of a maintenance fee filed prior to expiration of patent.

  • (a) Any patentee who is dissatisfied with the refusal of the Patent and Trademark Office to accept and record a maintenance fee which was filed prior to the expiration of the patent may petition the Director to accept and record the maintenance fee.
  • (b) Any petition under this section must be filed within two months of the action complained of, or within such other time as may be set in the action complained of, and must be accompanied by the fee set forth in § 1.17(g). The petition may include a request that the petition fee be refunded if the refusal to accept and record the maintenance fee is determined to result from an error by the Patent and Trademark Office.
  • (c) Any petition filed under this section must comply with the requirements of § 1.181(b) and must be signed by an attorney or agent registered to practice before the Patent and Trademark Office, or by the patentee, the assignee, or other party in interest.

37 CFR 1.377 provides a mechanism for review of a decision refusing to accept and record payment of a maintenance fee filed prior to the expiration of a patent. 37 CFR 1.377(a) permits a patentee who is dissatisfied with the refusal of the Office to accept and record a maintenance fee which was filed prior to the expiration of the patent to petition the Director to accept and record the maintenance fee. This petition may be used, for example, in situations where an error is present in the identifying data required by 37 CFR 1.366(c) with the maintenance fee payment, i.e., either the patent number or the application number is incorrect. See MPEP § 2515 and § 2530. A petition under 37 CFR 1.377 would not be appropriate where there is a complete failure to include at least one correct mandatory identifier as required by 37 CFR 1.366(c) for the patent since no evidence would be present as to the patent on which the maintenance fee was intended to be paid. If the maintenance fee payment with an incorrect mandatory identifier was made near the end of the grace period, the patent might expire since the Office would not credit the fee to the patent. A petition under 37 CFR 1.377 would not be appropriate where the patentee paid a maintenance fee on one patent when the patentee intended to pay the maintenance fee on a different patent but through error identified the wrong patent number and application number. Likewise, a petition under 37 CFR 1.377 would not be appropriate where the entire maintenance fee payment, including any necessary surcharge, was not filed prior to expiration of the patent.

Any petition filed under 37 CFR 1.377 must be filed within 2 months of the action complained of, or within such other time as may be set in the action complained of. The petition must be accompanied by the proper petition fee (37 CFR 1.17(g)). The petition may include a request that the petition fee be refunded if the refusal to accept and record the maintenance fee is determined to have resulted from an error by the Office.

Any petition filed under 37 CFR 1.377 must comply with the requirements of 37 CFR 1.181(b) and must be signed by an attorney or agent registered to practice before the Office, or by the patentee, the assignee, or other party in interest. A person or organization whose only responsibility insofar as the patent is concerned is the payment of a maintenance fee is not a party in interest for purposes 37 CFR 1.377. If the petition is signed by a person not registered to practice before the Office, the petition must indicate whether the person signing the petition is the patentee, assignee, or other party in interest. An assignee must comply with the requirements of 37 CFR 3.73(b) which is discussed in MPEP § 324.

Any petition under 37 CFR 1.377 should be marked on the front page of the communication to the attention of the Office of Petitions and addressed as follows:

Mail Stop Petition
Commissioner for Patents
P.O. Box 1450
Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450

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Last Modified: 03/27/2014 10:10:34