Maintenance fees are required to keep in force all utility and reissue utility patents based on applications filed on or after December 12, 1980. Maintenance fees are not required for a design or plant patent, or for statutory invention registrations.
Who can pay?
Maintenance fees and any necessary surcharges may be paid by the patentee or by any person or organization on behalf of a patentee.
What to include with payment?
You must include both the patent number and corresponding application number with your maintenance fee payment. For a reissue patent number, include the reissue application number.
If you have a change in entity status, make sure this is processed before attempting to pay online. If you are paying by fax or mail, submit your entity status request along with your maintenance fee payment.
How much to pay?
View the current fee amounts on the USPTO Fee Schedule. When you pay online, the fees due are automatically calculated based on the current entity status on file for your patent.
When to pay?
You may pay without surcharge at 3 to 3.5 years, 7 to 7.5 years, and 11 to 11.5 years after the date of issue. You cannot pay early. You may also pay 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. Visit the Patent Maintenance Fees Storefront to view the payment window dates for your patent.
A maintenance fee and any necessary surcharge must be submitted in the amount due on the date the maintenance fee and any necessary surcharge are paid. Payment of less than the required amount will not constitute payment of a maintenance fee or surcharge on a patent. If the last day for paying a maintenance fee without surcharge, or the last day for paying a maintenance fee with surcharge, falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or a federal holiday, the maintenance fee and any necessary surcharge may be paid on the next succeeding day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or federal holiday.
Where to submit payment?
Please use one of the following four options:
Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Fee address: a fee address can be established to have correspondence related solely to maintenance fees mailed to a different address than the correspondence address for the application.
Small entity: A small entity is defined in 37 CFR 1.27 as a person, a small business concern, or a nonprofit organization. Maintenance fees are reduced by 50 percent for qualified small entities.
Micro entity: To qualify as a micro entity, an applicant must meet the eligibility requirements under either the “gross income” basis (see 37 C.F.R. 1.29(a)) or the “institution of higher education” basis (see 37 C.F.R. 1.29(d)). Maintenance fees are reduced by 75 percent for qualified micro entities. A third party is not eligible for the micro entity discount.
- A registered practitioner (an attorney or agent who is either of record or acting in a representative capacity under 37 CFR 1.34)
- A sole inventor identified as the applicant, or the legal representative identified as the only applicant
- A single joint inventor with power of attorney by way of form AIA/81 or equivalent
- All of the joint inventors identified as the applicant (for micro entity certification, each joint inventor must sign a separate copy of the applicable form)
- An assignee identified as the applicant in an application filed on or after September 16, 2012 (only if the assignee is a person.) All papers submitted on behalf of a juristic entity must be signed by a patent practitioner per 37 CFR 1.33(b).
What to include with updates?
For proper certification of micro entity status, use form SB/15A or SB/15B, signed by a recognized party. To claim small entity status, provide a written assertion of entitlement to small entity status, signed by a recognized party.
- For loss of entitlement to small or micro entity status, provide a written notification of loss of entitlement, signed by a recognized party.
For fee address changes, submit the “Fee Address” Indication Form. (The Request for Customer Number form must also be completed if you have no customer number, 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, you may update the correspondence address by submitting the Change of Correspondence Address (Patent) form.
When to update?
You must file entity status changes prior to or at the time of paying the maintenance fee.
Where to submit updates?
Please use one of the following four options:
Check the current status of a patent
You can view bibliographic data, payment window dates, and the fee amounts due for a specific patent on the Patent Maintenance Fees Storefront. Navigate to the “By Patent & Application Number” search section, enter your patent number and application number, and select the “Continue” button to view current patent information.
Maintenance fee statements
You can also download a statement outlining maintenance fee payment history for your patent on the Patent Maintenance Fees Storefront. You can download statements for paid patent maintenance fees by searching for a patent as described above and clicking on the “Statement” link within the payment window status table. Statements are only available online for patent maintenance fees that have been paid on or after October 2, 2006. Patent maintenance fees paid before October 2, 2006 will display as “Not Available” in the statement column.
We publish weekly lists of patents for which maintenance fees may now be paid and of patents expired for failure to pay maintenance fees in 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" links.
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.
What are the petition requirements?
Any petition to accept an unintentionally delayed payment of a maintenance fee must include:
- the required maintenance fee set forth in § 1.20(e) through (g)
- the petition fee as set forth in § 1.17(m)
- a statement that the delay in payment of the maintenance fee was unintentional
- be signed in compliance with § 1.33(b).
Who can submit the petition?
A petition to reinstate an expired patent must be submitted by a recognized party. Be sure to review guidelines for determining who qualifies as a recognized party.
When will my petition be processed?
Web-based ePetitions filed via EFS-Web are automatically processed and granted immediately upon submission if the petition meets all of the requirements. Petitioners will know instantly whether all requirements have been met.
Petitions filed in paper (mailed, faxed, or submitted as a PDF attachment in EFS-Web) are subject to significant processing delays and the filing does not guarantee a granted petition.
Where to submit my petition?
Please use one of the following two options:
After selecting either Reinstate now button, follow the below steps to initiate an ePetition:
See the Web-based ePetition Quick Start Guide (pages 44-47) for additional filing instructions.
Mail Stop Petition
Contact the Office of Petitions at 571-272-3282 for assistance on filing a petition to accept unintentionally delayed payment of the maintenance fee.
What is a deficiency payment under 37 CFR 1.28(c) or 1.29(k)?
If small or micro entity was established in good faith, and you paid a maintenance fee as a small or micro entity in good faith but later discover that such status was established in error or that through error we were not notified of a loss of entitlement to such status, we will excuse the error if a deficiency payment and other requirements are submitted in compliance with 37 CFR 1.28(c) or 1.29(k). This is known as a “1.28(c) petition” or “1.29(k) petition.”
What to include with a deficiency payment petition?
A separate submission is required for each patent paid in error. You must submit an itemization of the deficiency payment as follows:
- Each particular type of fee that was previously paid in error (e.g., maintenance fee due at 3.5 years, surcharge - 3.5 year)
- The fee amounts previously paid, and the date on which it was paid
- The deficiency owed amount (for each fee erroneously paid)
- The total deficiency payment owed, which is the sum of the individual deficiency owed amounts.
How do I calculate the amount owed?
Use the difference between the current fee amount (based on the USPTO Fee Schedule) and the amount previously paid in error.
If the original small or micro entity fee amount was paid with no surcharge during the window period, no surcharge is required. If the original small or micro entity fee amount was paid with a surcharge during the grace period, an additional surcharge is required.
Who can submit a deficiency payment petition?
The deficiency payment petition must be signed by a recognized party. Be sure to review guidelines for determining who qualifies as a recognized party.
When will my deficiency payment petition be processed?
The payment is processed upon receipt. However, the Office of Petitions must make a formal decision on the acceptance of the deficiency payment petition. The entity status change and additional payment will not be reflected on the maintenance fee statement until after the petition has been granted. This may take considerable time as they are manually reviewed in the order received.
Where to submit a deficiency payment petition?
Please use one of the following two options:
Mail Stop Petition
What happens if I don’t pay a maintenance fee?
If maintenance fees and any applicable surcharges are not paid the patent protection lapses and the rights provided by a patent are no longer enforceable.
It is the responsibility of the patentee to ensure maintenance fees and any applicable surcharges 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.
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.
Generally, utility patents expire after 20 years from the application filing date subject to the payment of appropriate maintenance fees. The USPTO does not calculate the expiration dates for patents. In response to patent owner and public inquiry, the USPTO provides a downloadable patent term calculator as a resource to help the public estimate the expiration date of a patent. See the Patent Term Calculator page for more information.
If you need assistance, please contact the Maintenance Fee Branch at 571-272-6500 or RADHelpdesk@uspto.gov.