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How to maintain a granted patent

An invention can be protected by a patent for a maximum of 20 years from the date of filing of the patent application. A maintenance fee must be paid each year to maintain the validity of the patent. The first maintenance fee shall be assessed by the Office in the decision granting the patent. The maintenance fee for each subsequent year shall be payable without a request from the Office.

If the patent proprietor makes a written declaration to the Office that he grants to anyone the right to exploit the invention for a reasonable consideration (makes an offer of a licence), the maintenance fee shall be paid at the rate of 50 %.

Maintenance fees for a patent may be paid no earlier than one year before its due date. If the maintenance fee is not paid by the due date, it may be additionally paid within 6 months from the due date. In this case, however, a surcharge equal to the maintenance fee due must be paid at the same time as the maintenance fee due.

If the maintenance fee is not paid within the statutory time limit, the patent will expire. The expiry of the patent will allow the public to freely exploit the invention protected by the patent.

If the maintenance fee for the patent is not paid within the prescribed period, the patent shall lapse at the end of the period allowed for payment of the maintenance fee. The status of the patent in the register will be updated to "lapsed" after the expiry of the period for payment of the maintenance fee with late payment fee (i.e. after 6 months after the due date).

The patent can be restored to its previous status within 18 months from the due date of the maintenance fee. The rights of third parties that may arise during these 18 months remain unaffected.

The Office shall refuse the request for the patent to be reinstated unless the patent proprietor proves that the maintenance fee has not been paid despite the due diligence required by the circumstances.