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In order to maintain a patent or a patent application, an annual fee has to be paid to the patent authority (the government) of each country in which the patent is in force. This is the so-called ‘maintenance fee’, also referred to as the ‘renewal fee’. If you fail to pay the maintenance fee on time, your patent will expire irrevocably. Nederlandsch Octrooibureau ('NLO') can be of assistance by monitoring the maintenance fees and renewal dates worldwide, and ensuring a timely payment.
The requirement to pay maintenance fees is based on the idea that patent rights have an economic character. The maintenance fee encourages the patent owner to reconsider the maintenance of his patents on economic grounds. In principle this should result in a pool of nothing but commercially interesting patents.
The first renewal date of the maintenance fee is triggered by either the application date or the granting date, depending on territory and legislation. In general maintenance fees are progressive, which means that a higher fee will be charged for each consecutive year. In most countries the maintenance fee can be paid up to six months after the renewal date, in which case a penalty clause will apply. Failing to pay the fee, whatever the reason may be, will result in the patent expiring irrevocably.
To ensure on-time payment of the maintenance fees of patents and patent applications, we strongly recommend calling in experts. NLO has a long-standing experience in monitoring renewal dates worldwide. Our 'Renewals' department informs patent owners and applicants on time about approaching renewal dates. Furthermore, we ensure payment of the relevant fees in those countries where protection is obtained or applied for. To this purpose NLO has an international network of first-class associate agencies at its disposal.