Patent Issuance and Marking Requirements
When a patent application is found to have met the requirements for patentability, a notice of allowance will be sent to the applicant's patent attorney. Once the notice of allowance is received, the applicant need only be concerned about the following items:
Payment of the Issue Fee:
The applicant will be given three months from the date of the notice to pay an issue fee. In addition to paying the issue fee, the patent office will sometimes require that final corrections be made to the patent drawings. If the issue fee and the drawing corrections are not submitted in time, the application will be regarded as abandoned. However, the patent office may accept a late issue fee if the delay is shown to be unavoidable.
The patent is issued as soon as possible after the date of payment, dependent upon the volume of printing on hand. The patent grant then is delivered or mailed to the inventor's patent attorney. On the date of the grant, the patent and the Patent and Trademark Office's file on the patent are made available to the public. When the patent is received, the patent attorney and the inventor should review the patent for errors. Errors in the patent can usually be corrected through the issuance of a Certificate of Correction
A person who makes or sells patented articles is required to mark the articles with the word "Patent" and the number of the patent. A patent holder may not recover damages from an infringer unless products produced under the patent were properly marked, or unless the infringer was duly notified of the infringement and continued to infringe after the notice. The marking of an article as patented when it is not patented is against the law and subjects the offender to a penalty.
Some persons mark articles sold with the terms "Patent Applied For" or "Patent Pending." These phrases have no legal effect, but only give information that an application for patent has been filed in the Patent and Trademark Office. False use of these phrases or their equivalent is prohibited.
All utility patents which are issued from applications filed on and after December 12, 1980 are subject to fees which must be paid to maintain the patent in force. These fees are due at 3-1/2, 7-1/2 and 11-1/2 years from the date the patent is granted and can be paid without a surcharge during the "window-period" which is the six month period preceding each due date, e.g., 3 years to 3 years and six months, etc. The maintenance fees may be paid up to six months late with the payment of a surcharge. Failure to pay the current maintenance fee on time may result in expiration of the patent.