Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Price of Success

After the all the rejections, objections and restrictions are worked through, eventually it happens.  The patent applicant opens the mail and gets the prize:  A Notice of Allowance and Fee Due.  This is the letter informing inventors that the USPTO is willing to issue a patent for their invention.

For a fee.

Once the Notice of Allowance and Fee Due is sent, the Issue Fee becomes due and Maintenance Fees come into play.  While the fees are subject to change, the structure and timing are pretty stable.

The issue fee is due within 90 days of the issue date of the Notice of Allowance.  The current Issue Fee (without discounts) is $960.  Failure to pay this fee will prevent a patent from issuing.

Three Maintenance Fees are due at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years after the issue date of the patent.  While the law prohibits the USPTO from accepting maintenance fees early, there is currently a six month grace period for payment.  The amount due for each payment will be published in the USPTO Fee Schedule that is current at the time payment is due.  Failure to pay these fees will cause the patent to lapse.

For reference, the current fee structure is $1,600 due at 3.5 years, $3,200 due at 7.5 years, and $7,400 due at 11.5 years.  Including the issue fee, this works out to $14,120 over the life of the patent.  

The important thing to remember about Issue and Maintenance Fees is to pay them on time.  Missed and late payments can quickly result in the loss of a holder’s patent rights.  The USPTO has little flexibility regarding late payments at this point in the process.  

Below is a summary of selected patents that have been recently issued in textile related classification codes:

Overlapping element:  A way of joining panels in a garment.  The panels are cut to allow an overlap where the panel that the top of the sewn seam on one side of the panel becomes the bottom of the sewn seam on the other side of the joined panel.  The geometry of doing this results in less restrictive apparel when worn.   Patent #:  8601612.  Inventor:  Funk-Danielson.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Article of apparel with zonal stretch resistance:  A portion of a garment extending around an elbow, knee or other joint.  The material has a density portion running along the range of motion of the joint and a second density region running perpendicular to the range of motion.  The purpose is to help reduce joint injury.  Patent #:  8601613.  Inventors:  Melhart and Turner.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Strengthening glove:  A glove with resistance bands running along the fingers and palms that can be used so increase hand strength.  Patent #:  8601614.  Inventor: Scaff.  Assignee:  Scaff

Azo compound, aqueous solution, ink composition, ink for inkjet recording, inkjet recording method, ink cartridge for inkjet recording, and inkjet record:  Black Azo Ink with improved fastness solubility and shade stability.  Intended for use in ink jet printers but does have dye applications.  Patent #:  8603191.  Inventor:  Tateishi,  Assignee:  Fujifilm Corporation.

Linked articles:  A shoe made of “linked” material.  The structure reminds me of a chain mail type material but structured out of multiple materials.  Patent #: 8601720.  Inventor:  Aveni.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Shoe and last:  A shoe with a reverse wedge designed to improve blood circulation by providing a continuous exercise effect to the wearer.  Patent #: 8601722.  Inventor:  Frye.  Assignee:  Frye.

Golf shoes:  Golf shoe designed secondary supports to provide a range of support directly under the changing center of gravity of the golfer throughout a proper swing.  Patent #:  8601724. Inventor:  Shiue and Hsueh.  Assignee:  Shiue and Hsueh.

Cleats and footwear for providing customized traction:  A set of removable/replaceable cleats that allow the wearer to customize the ground grip of the shoe.  Patent #:  8601725.  Inventor:  MacNeill,  Assignee:  Cleats Llc.

Steel cord for reinforcing rubber article and pneumatic tire:  Method to improve cut resistance in the steel cord used in tires.  Patent #:  8601782.  Inventor:  Nakamura.  Assignee:  Bridgestone Corporation.

Laundry treatment machine and the method of the same:  An upper and lower filtering system for removing debris from wash water.  The arrangement allows for easier cleaning of accumulated debris.  The idea is like a lint filter for washing machines.  Patent #:  8601836.  Inventor:  Kim,  Assignee: LG Electronics Inc.

Boat storage canopy apparatus for boats with wake board towers:  A boat storage canopy fitted to a boat storage lift has an entry portion, raised center portion and shore side portion with downwardly depending curtains on first and second sides and the shore side end with a hinged curtain at the entry end.  Patent #:  8602043.  Inventor:  Kaiser.  Assignee:  Kaiser

Tent assembly:  A tent assembly where members of the assembly use flexible hollow sleeve structures with integral fabric hub intersections that are held in tension with compression members.  Results in a stronger tent with simplified assembly.  Patent #:  8602044.  Inventor:  Zemitis.  Assignee:  Slingfin, Inc.

Leather-like sheet material, process for production thereof, and interior, clothing and industrial materials made by using the same:  A leather-like sheet material made from a nonwoven fabric which is constituted of ultra-fine fibers having a mean single-fiber fineness of 0.001 to 0.5 dtex and impregnated with a self-emulsifiable polyurethane.  Patent #:  8603925.  Inventors:  Koide,  Assignee:  Toray Industries.

Textile fabric with improved finish, production and use thereof:  A textile fabric having a coating composed of two layers of thermoplastic hot-seal adhesives of differing compositions applied one on top of the other. The textile fabrics may be used as interlining or lining material which can withstand stress during care treatment.  Patent #: 8603926.  Inventors:  Grynaeus,  Assignee:  Karl Freundenberg Kg.

Surfactant coated fibrous nonwoven mats:  Coated and uncoated fibrous mats, and laminates containing the mat, having one or more surfactants on the fibers and binder holding the fibers together in only a one side of the mat. The mat contains mostly non-cellulosic fibers and some cured resinous binder with the most typical fibers being glass fibers. This type of mat is used to make wallboard or gypsum.  Patent #:  8603927.  Inventor:  Kajander.  Assignee:  Johns Manville.

Foldable Tent with Integrated Ventilation System:  A tent with an continuous ventilation system.  Patent #: 8590554.  Inventors:  Choi and Jin.  Assignee:  Jin.

Jim Carson is a principal of RB Consulting, Inc. and a registered patent agent.  He has over 30 years of experience across multiple industries including the biotechnology, textile, computer, telecommunications, and energy sectors.  RB Consulting, Inc. specializes in providing management, prototyping, and regulatory services to small and start-up businesses.  He can be reached via email at or by phone at (803) 792-2183.

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