If your business owns a patent, you need to make sure that you have a protection system set up so that the patent does not expire. If you don’t pay your patent renewal fees, the patent will lapse and the intellectual property rights that you had carefully protected can then be exploited by somebody else.
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) can restore a lapsed patent, but it will look at closely all the circumstances surrounding the lapse. If the lapse occurred because you were not careful enough to pay your renewal fees on time, it is very likely that they will deny your application to renew.
This occurred recently when a company failed to pay their renewal fee – the renewal was due in September 2004 and the patent then lapsed in March 2005 when the six-month grace period expired.
Although the situation was complicated as the firm was suffering financial difficulties, and was transferring the management of its patent portfolio to a different firm of patent attorneys, the UKIPO still refused to reinstate the patent when they received an application to restore it in April 2006, a decision that was upheld by the High Court.
This shows how vital it is that, if your business owns intellectual property (IP) that is of value, you put a system in place that will ensure that any commercial intellectual property rights protection you have does not lapse – that any notices concerning renewals or any challenges to any form of IP are dealt with promptly.
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