In order to protect your invention or design, you should invest in a patent. This will keep others from stealing and making money from your work.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) discusses the guidelines and rules for maintaining a patent after getting one. If you have a utility patent, you should prepare for maintenance fees.
Paying your maintenance fees
The United States Patent and Trademark Office discusses maintenance fees that patents get subjected to. Note that neither plant nor design patents come with these fees, only utility patents do.
First, you must pay your fees in accordance with a schedule. Generally speaking, the patent attorney keeps track of the date. They will contact you when the time comes to pay the fee, allowing you to keep your patent active.
You must pay the first fee between three to three years and six months after establishing the patent. The second fee comes in at seven to seven years and six months after the patent date.
Note that you can pay these fees up to six months late as well. However, you will end up having to pay an extra fee due to the lateness.
What happens if you do not pay?
If you do not keep up with the maintenance fee, then the patent itself will no longer hold validity. This means you do not have any of the protections it once offered. Your invention will enter the public domain and anyone can profit from it.
If you uphold all of the fees, then your patent can hold its validity for up to twenty years or the full patent term.