Small business suffers under hidden patent renewal costs

Over eight million patents are held worldwide by many thousands of businesses. All have to pay regular renewal fees, usually every year, to the Patent Office for each country to keep their patents in force.

The amount payable is usually modest (£100 or so) – varying from country to country and with the age of the patent. But you can be charged up to 4 times the actual cost to make these payments! This extra cost quickly mounts up when multiple patents are involved in many countries.

How does this happen? Initially patent agents (or the specialist renewals companies like CPA Global, Dennemeyer and Patrafee that they appoint) assume responsibility for making these payments – often without explaining what they are about.

Fees charged for everything in the patent world are high – in most cases justifiably because patent laws are complex. As a patent owner you get used to regular bills – and they are difficult to challenge because of this complexity.

But making renewal payments is essentially a straight forward and recurring exercise and does not justify the charges currently being levied.

Why do most businesses put up with this situation? For two reasons, firstly because it is difficult to find out exactly how much is payable and secondly because they do not trust themselves to make this important payment on time each year.

Lawrence Mallinson, MD at James White Drinks found the cost of his patent renewals spiralling out of control, so co-founded a new company called RenewalsDesk to encourage other patent holders to administer their own IP.

James White Drinks had always relied on an attorney to take care of these patents, but despite the expensive renewal service, still incurred a series of late payment fines.

“I decided at that point to investigate the patenting system myself” Lawrence said, “it was surprisingly easy and cheap to do when you cut out the cost of a patent attorney that is out-sourcing the work.”

He spotted that the key to ensuring there was no error in the system was to have an automated online tool that administered renewals.

“We launched RenewalsDesk not just to act a cheap alternative to companies like CPA Global, but to act as an automated, self-managed system that patent holders can use to administer their patents, save money and eliminate the risk of fines and penalties.”

The system is very easy to use and automatically alerts patent holders when their patents are due for renewal, as well as offering an automated payment system, which guarantees that deadlines will not be missed.

All the calculations for regional fees are automatically handled, saving time and money and allowing patent holders to take control of their intellectual property in-house.

Ultimately, this is a task that is best suited to computer management rather than expensive man-power and it is recognition of this simple fact that makes RenewalsDesk a radical new alternative.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tim Heath .

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