Patent Maintenance Fees
The public is often unaware that even after a patent application issues as a patent, there are some hidden costs involved in the life of a patent. Particularly, there are patent maintenance fees which must be paid to the US Patent & Trademark Office to keep a patent in effect.
According to the USPTO annual reports, maintenance fees have traditionally been “the largest category of patent fees.” Utility patent renewal rates are charged in 3 stages. According to the latest schedule of fees, the first maintenance fee (first stage payment) of $980 is due 3.5 years after issuance. The second maintenance fee of $2,480 is due 7.5 years after issuance. And, the third maintenance fee of $4,110 is due 11.5 years after issuance. Of course each of these fees is halved for being a small entity (generally less than 500 employees).