Your go-to guide to patent renewals
How long does a patent last? Every inventor knows the answer: 20 years, right? Not quite. A patent can last 20 years – and sometimes a little longer – if you renew it at the required intervals.
Receiving a patent grant is more than half the battle, but maintaining the exclusive rights to your invention for as long as possible is not as straightforward as might be imagined. That is why the Intellectual Property (IP) professionals at Dennemeyer have created a comprehensive guide to answer the when's, why's and how's of renewing patents. By staying informed of all available solutions, you can make the right decision for your business while keeping costs down.
Why do patents need to be renewed?
While patents are granted for a fixed term (generally 20 years from the date of filing), maintenance fees typically need to be paid from when an application is still pending up until the date of the grant's final expiration. These are often known as patent renewal fees or annuity fees. If the patent is expected to continue to add value to the business or be used in licensing or enforcement, it is likely to be worth renewing. If not, you may decide to let it lapse.
How are patents renewed, and why can the process be complex?
Patent owners have to renew their rights with the relevant patent office in each jurisdiction. A fee must be paid to the office, often on the anniversary of the filing date.
However, each jurisdiction's actual IP regime can be convoluted, and fees vary considerably. For instance, patent renewals in the United States become due after 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years from the filing date. Rules are sometimes changed, too, so you need to keep track of the latest developments. When navigating a forest of deadlines and fees, it is all too easy to get lost and miss a renewal payment, jeopardizing a valuable patent right. That is why it is essential to map out a patent management strategy.
Patent renewal strategies
There are three main options for managing patent renewals:
- Manage personally: This may be appropriate for small businesses or those with specialized internal teams. Of course, this method places a heavy burden on those responsible for directing the operation, particularly if they have to become familiar with procedures in multiple jurisdictions - where information may not always be readily available.
- Manage via a law firm: Alternatively, portfolio management can be entrusted to an external law firm specializing in IP. Attorneys at the firm can then notify the patent owner when a fee is due and seek instructions. However, this option can be cumbersome and expensive for the patent owner.
- Manage via a patent renewal service provider: The third possibility is working with a service provider specializing in managing global patent renewals. This is becoming increasingly recognized as the best way to manage large portfolios. Providers use sophisticated record-keeping systems to ensure that portfolio information is updated and that no deadlines are missed. They also keep track of all the latest developments regarding dates, fees and procedures in each jurisdictional office. Central management of a portfolio offers cost efficiencies as patent renewals can often be combined with the provider's other IP-related services.
Why work with Dennemeyer?
Working with a specialized patent renewals service provider means you benefit from the experience and understanding of dedicated IP experts. Our professionals have access to specialist agents in key countries, ensuring knowledge of the latest legal changes.
Dennemeyer is an established and highly qualified provider of patent renewal services, managing some of the world's most valuable IP portfolios for 60 years. We offer the global reach, outstanding economies of scale, preferential rates, optimized workflows and scope of support that only a full-service provider is capable of.
Above all, we aim to provide an adaptive service that fits your organization's needs – responding to your company's size and in-house talent. You stay in control without having to fret about missing deadlines. That means your team can focus on building value and delivering growth, assured that your all-important IP rights are in safe hands.
Understanding the utility patent vs. design patent distinction — and how these categories vary around the world — is vital to securing the right IP protection.