Maintenance Fees: PYFRA!

Almost every event in the life of a patent entails fees. Application fees, issue fees, fees for filing a Continuation, and the topic of this blog post: maintenance fees.

maintenance-fee notice
Maintenance-Fee Notification from the USPTO.

Maintenance fees are paid to the USPTO to maintain a granted utility patent.

(Design patents and plant patents are not subject to maintenance fees.) A patent-holder must pay maintenance fees every 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years after the date the patent is issued.
The fee depends on your entity status. For example, a Microentity’s first fee is $500; a Small Entity’s is $1,000, and a Large Entity’s is $2,000. At the 7.5-year mark, the fees increase, and they increase again at the 11.5-year mark.

An inventor may pay these fees themselves, or they may have their patent practitioner do it for a small fee of their own. Either way, inventors are responsible for staying up to date on their maintenance fees.

Notice the inset text on the right of the example notification. It says “No maintenance fees are due at this time. 3.5 year window opens on 11/05/2022.”  This is the USPTO’s way of saying “Your first fee is due on 11/05/2022, but if you don’t pay it within six months of this notice, you’ll incur an additional fee.”
What the notice doesn’t tell you is how much you have to pay, or how much your late fee will be. For that, consult our list below, or go to the USPTO’s Fee Schedule. (Be sure you’re looking under the correct column for your Entity Status).

First Maintenance Fees:

  • Micro-Entity: $500
    Late Fee (Incurred after 6 months): $125
  • Small Entity: $1,000
    Late Fee (Incurred after 6 months): $250
  • Large Entity: $2,000
    Late Fee (Incurred after 6 months): $500

In summary, inventors are responsible for paying maintenance fees three times during the life a granted patent. Delaying payment results in surcharges starting at $125. In short, PYFRA (Pay Your Fee Right Away).

Watch this space for upcoming blog posts about
Entities: How inventors are defined by the USPTO
ALLLL the Fees: Navigating the USPTO’s Fee Schedule

For more information about the patent process, see
The USPTO’s Patent Process Overview
Patent FAQs
Current FeesOur step-by-step guide to writing a provisional patent application
How Do I Know It’s Patentable?

Videos from the USPTO:
Roadmap to Filing a Patent Application
The Process of Patent Application Examination at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Copyright 2021
When quoting, please cite

No one here is a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.  As a patent agent, Scott Keeley is registered with the USPTO to prosecute patents. That means we do everything a patent attorney does except argue in court.


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