Must annual fees be paid in order to maintaining the validity of the patent?
Obtaining a patent is very important but it does not mean that from that time on the owner can stay inactive, as, in order to maintain the gained rights, it is essential to pay an annual fee to keep the validity. If the patent is for an invention, the relative fee must be paid each year once yearly, on the corresponding day of the deposit of the patent.
If, instead, the patent is for a utility model, the fee is of five years payable on the day of the deposit of the patent, then after five years another five must be paid, so that altogether a maximum of two payments are made. The patent elapses and has not got any more value if the annual fees are not paid. In case of a delay, there is a period of six months in which it is still possible to pay the annual fee, with an added amount of € 51.65 as a penalty for late payment; after this period it is not possible to rectify the oversight, except in very rare and exceptional circumstances.
Should the annual fees not be paid during the period when the patent is in the application phase, there is a further period of four months from the granting time to regularise the situation, there after it will not be possible anymore. Even if it may seem a small formality, failure to pay an annual fee generates very serious consequences, as the patent becomes utterly useless and impossible to protect.