Annuity fees, also referred to as “annuities,” are government fees that patent applicants and patent holders must pay each year to maintain their patent rights. Many foreign jurisdictions impose annuity fees, including the countries of the European Union.

Domestically, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) does not require annuity fees for pending patent applications. However, when a patent application becomes an issued patent, the USPTO imposes three government fees, referred to as the “maintenance fees,” for maintaining validity of the issued patent. These fees are paid at three, seven, and eleven years into the patent term.

A failure to timely pay these fees in a foreign jurisdiction, or a maintenance fee in the United States, may lead to abandonment of a patent application or loss of patent rights. For this reason, at Smith & Hopen, we keep meticulous records of the annuity payment schedules for our clients. We coordinate with licensed patent attorneys globally to ensure that all fees are paid on time and that our clients’ patent portfolios are secured.