Your Guide to Patent Annuity Service

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Imagine watching all your hard work and investment snatched away because of an avoidable mistake on your part. That’s what it feels like to lose something as valuable as a patent right when you miss paying the annuity fee. It is a tiny act to perform with gigantic consequences in case you forget. In the following paragraphs, we discuss important information about patent annuity and tips to ensure you choose the best annuity service provider. 

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What is Patent Annuity? 

Patent Annuity also referred to as patent renewal or patent maintenance, is a renewal fee that needs to be paid in order to retain your patent for its validated term. The frequency of payments as well as the amount to be paid varies from region to region.  

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not require a patent maintenance fee for plant and design patents. The patent annuity fee for utility patents is at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years, starting from 3.5 years after the issue date of the patent. The sum to be paid varies for large, small, and micro businesses. If you miss the deadline, a 6-month grace period is available to renew the patent upon payment of an additional fee of 500 USD. 

In Europe, the first patent annuity fee is to be paid three years from the date of filing the patent application. It follows a yearly renewal model, unlike the USA. Post the grant of a patent by the European Patent Office (EPO), the annual fee needs to be paid to the respective national patent offices. The EPO allows for patent annuity fee to be paid up to 6 months after the deadline if a late fee, which is 50% surcharge of the original fee payable, is paid.  

Common Mistakes in Paying Patent Annuity Fee 

Businesses tend to miss a few important pointers when it comes to making timely payments: 

  • No record maintenance of due dates for renewal. 
  • Overlooking the processing time when paying renewal fees in a foreign country. 
  • Miscalculating the patent fee associated with your patents. This is especially true in the case of international patents.  

There are scores of different ways that can cause you to default on your patent renewal fee. It is best to rely on an experienced firm to carry out the payments in a timely fashion. For those with international patents in their portfolio, patent annuity providers are the best bet for the quick and easy services and the peace of mind they offer! 

Maintaining Patents 

When it comes to maintaining patents there are three options available to businesses: 

  1. Self-Filing– Businesses can assign a dedicated person to manage patent annuities and handle the communication between PTOs. This is the most inexpensive choice and can considerably curtail the patent annuity costs. 
  2. Legal Firm– You can hire legal counsel to track and notify you of patent annuity deadlines and fee amounts. Such firms will inform you of the pending fee at regular intervals. 
  3. Patent Annuity Service Provider– These firms specialise in the global maintenance of patents. They combine the benefits of an IP service provider with the legal expertise of an attorney firm. Given the skilled professional services they offer, there are significant patent annuity costs attached to availing their services.  

The option you select will be determined by factors like patent portfolio size, company resources, and the number of international filings that a business possesses. 

When renewing a patent, it is good practice to evaluate the fee against the benefits of retaining it. This can be done individually or with the help of patent review services. If an existing patent is still aligned with the products offered by the company and helps ward off any infringers on current or future technology development, then one must definitely keep the patent alive. If on the other hand, the patent has ceased to be an asset then the right thing to do is to prune it from your IP portfolio. By doing so you can free up precious financial resources and redirect the savings to new research.  

Why Hire a Patent Annuity Service Provider

Micro and small businesses with a limited number of patents can easily rely on self-filing. For larger businesses with an extensive portfolio, it makes sense to hire a patent annuity service provider. Besides the obvious advantage of timely renewal, they can be helpful in the following ways: 

  • Enhancing cost-efficiency in the long run and eliminating unpredictable local agents’ fees.  
  • Saving precious time in tedious renewal formalities that vary across jurisdictions. Remember, the patent laws differ from country to country! 
  • Using sophisticated technology to safeguard your IP and identify any misalignments.  
  • Instant digital access to your IP portfolio and data-driven insights that give you a comprehensive view of your IP portfolio.  
  • An extensive network of global that keeps you updated with the changing patent rules. 
  • Diverse offerings such as foreign filings, patents, trademarks etc., are available with a single provider. This further helps in cost-cutting as you can outsource all activities related to building and maintaining your IP portfolio to a single firm instead of paying different providers.  

Conclusion

Your decision to choose Patent Annuity Service Provider will be guided by patent annuity costs considerations. It is best to not compromise on selecting a suitable firm as patent maintenance is a crucial exercise. As pointed out above in the benefits, an expert firm can help you in multiple aspects concerning your IP portfolio. Therefore, it makes sense to hire an experienced firm to take care of your assets. 

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