Securing a patent helps to protect your invention or design. It is the best way to ensure someone else cannot profit off your hard work. To get a US patent, you must go through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
You also must follow all the rules and guidelines for maintaining your patent. The USPTO explains maintenance will include paying a fee regularly if you have a utility patent only. If your patent is for design or plant, there are no maintenance fees.
Maintenance fees for your patent need to be paid according to a set schedule. Your patent attorney will typically keep track of the dates, contact you when maintenance fees are due, and pay the fee if you decide to keep your patent active.
In the US, the first patent maintenance fee is due between three years and three years and six months after you got your patent. The second fee is due year seven to seven and six months after your patent grant date. The third fee is due at 11 years to 11 years and six months after your initial patent date. US maintenance fees can also be paid up to 6 months after the above dates, with an additional fee.
You must pay your fees on time every time they are due. If you fail to pay the maintenance fee, then you will lose your patent and all protections it affords you, and your invention will enter the public domain – meaning anyone else can use the invention without your permission.
If all (3) US Maintenance fees are paid, then the patent will remain in force for its full 20-year term.