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By Richard Gearhart
Founding Partner

You’ve been through the process of patent drafting and prosecution, and you’ve been successful.  You’ve paid the issue fee and now you have an issued U.S. patent, congratulations!  The USPTO will send you a ribbon copy of your patent, which is a paperback copy with the USPTO ribbon and seal.  But you’re not done with the USPTO yet.  To keep your patent active and enforceable, you must remember to pay the maintenance fees.  Failure to pay any one of the three maintenance fees will result in your patent expiring and becoming unenforceable.

The maintenance fees are due after the patent issue date as follows
and the amounts for a small entity as of July 1, 2019, are:
3 to 3.5 years————$800
7 to 7.5 years———–$1800
11 to 11.5 years——–$3700

You can’t pay them early.

You may also pay with a surcharge during the “grace periods” at
3.5 to 4 years———–$80
7.5 to 8 years———–$80
11.5 to 12 years——-$80

You must include both the patent number and corresponding application number with your maintenance fee payment; in the case of a reissue, include the reissue application number.   The patent number is at the top of the first page of the patent ribbon copy, and the application number is a few lines down on that same page.  Alternatively, you can look for your patent on the USPTO website.  To do this, you can go to the ‘search patents’ page and enter your name as a search term.  You can enter other information too if need be, like your town, etc.

If worse comes to worse, and you miss one of the time windows, you can reinstate your patent by making a delayed payment.  You have to submit a petition and fees to the USPTO, along with a statement that the delay in payment of the maintenance fee was unintentional, and it must be signed. The fee for a small entity is $1000 as of July 1, 2019.

If you’re working with a patent professional they should keep track of the due dates for you and send you reminders.  They can also help you try to reinstate your patent if you miss a payment.

For more information you can call Gearhart Law at 908-273-0700; we can help you with maintenance fees and other patent matters, both domestic and foreign.
Or you can visit the USPTO website at:

About the Author
Richard Gearhart, Esq. is the founder of Gearhart Law and the host of a weekly radio show for entrepreneurs called “Passage to Profit”. He has built a firm with an international presence that helps entrepreneurs from around the world with their patent, trademark and copyright needs. Richard commands a breadth of experience that comes from nearly 30 years of practice in the writing and prosecution of hundreds of patents, and in all aspects of Intellectual Property law. In 2022, Richard was recognized by ROI New Jersey as a 2022 ROI Influencer in the Law List category for being one of the best of the best in New Jersey for intellectual property law. Gearhart Law emerged from Richard’s passion for entrepreneurship and startups and his belief that entrepreneurship grows the economy and creates jobs. When we started Gearhart Law, our goal was to help and support the new business ventures of 500 entrepreneurs and inventors. After 12 years, the firm has far surpassed this goal; today, we look forward to helping even more inventors and entrepreneurs get off to a great start and reach their own goals.