Q: I own a patent that was issued in June of 2011. I did not keep up with maintenance fees. What is my status now in 2021?
A: You can pay the maintenance fee, but there will be gap in protection.
As part of the effort to promote entrepreneurial enterprises by the USPTO, trademark registrations and patent grants are subject to periodic renewal, maintenance fees, and confirmation of use. As such, after registration, a trademark remains valid for an initial term of ten years, subject to filing a confirmation statement of use between the fifth and sixth anniversaries of the registration date as required by Section 8 of the Trademark Act. Similarly, a patent remains valid for an initial term of three years. Failure to maintain the registration/patent will result in early cancellation or 'abandonment' of your patent/trademark. It will be necessary to file a petition to the Director to accept an unintentionally delayed payment of a maintenance fee. This petition may be denied if the patent owner cannot meet each of the petition requirements.
In view of the significance of these requirements, and in order to assist clients with monitoring official communications from the USPTO, many firms do offer docketing services which often includes: authorizing a firm to act as your contact with the USPTO, assisting in filtering third party fraudulent solicitations, and providing you with reminders about important fee dates.
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