The method of payment for the maintenance fee and any necessary surcharge is set forth in 37 CFR 1.23. The payment shall be made in U.S. dollars and in the form of a cashier’s or certified check, Treasury note, national bank notes, or United States Postal Service money order as provided in 37 CFR 1.23(a). If the maintenance fee and any necessary surcharge is sent in any other form, the Office may delay or cancel the credit until collection is made. For example, a personal or other uncertified check drawn on a U.S. bank that is not immediately negotiable, e.g., because it lacks a signature or due to insufficient funds, will not constitute payment of a maintenance fee and/or surcharge.
The maintenance fee can be charged to a credit card as set forth in 37 CFR 1.23(b), but credit for the payment is subject to actual receipt of the fee by the Office. Credit Card Payment Form (PTO-2038) should be used for payment of fees by credit card unless the payment is submitted over the Internet. If credit card information is provided on a form or document other than the form provided by the Office for the payment of fees by credit card, the Office will not be liable if the credit card number becomes public knowledge. See MPEP § 509.
Any remittance from a foreign country must be payable and immediately negotiable in the United States for the full amount of the maintenance fee and/or surcharge required.
37 CFR 1.366(b) provides that maintenance fees and any necessary surcharge may be paid by authorization to charge a deposit account established pursuant to 37 CFR 1.25. The authorization to charge the deposit account must be submitted within an appropriate window or grace period and must be limited to maintenance fees and surcharges payable on the date of submission. The authorization to charge the deposit account cannot be submitted prior to the third, seventh, or eleventh year after grant of the patent. If an authorization to charge a deposit account were submitted to pay the maintenance fee due at 3 years and 6 months after grant, a new authorization to charge a deposit account or other form of payment will have to be submitted at the appropriate time for each of the maintenance fees due at 7 years and 6 months and 11 years and 6 months. Any payment or authorization filed at any time other than that set forth in 37 CFR 1.362(d), (e), or (f) will not serve as a payment of the maintenance fee, except insofar as a delayed payment of the maintenance fee is accepted by the Director pursuant to 37 CFR 1.378. See MPEP § 2590. A payment of less than the required amount, a payment in a manner other than that set forth in 37 CFR 1.23, or the filing of an authorization to charge a deposit account having insufficient funds, will not constitute payment of a maintenance fee on a patent. The authorization is required to permit the immediate charging of the maintenance fee to the deposit account. An authorization would be improper if it only authorized the maintenance fee to be charged at a later date, e.g., on the last possible day of payment without surcharge. Such an authorization would not serve as payment of the maintenance fee. Any payment which fails to result in the entire proper amount of the maintenance fee being present on the due date will not constitute payment of the maintenance fee.
Maintenance fee payments and any surcharges relating thereto must be submitted separately from any other payments for fees or charges, whether submitted in the manner set forth in 37 CFR 1.23 or by authorization to charge a deposit account. See 37 CFR 1.366(e). Maintenance fee payments and surcharge payments relating thereto that are commingled with payments for other fees or charges, e.g., application filing fees, issue fees, document supply fees, etc., will not be accepted. Maintenance fees require processing by a separate area of the Office and are not processed in the same manner as other fees and charges. Maintenance fees for a number of patents can be submitted together in one submission and one payment. 37 CFR 1.366(e) specifies that if maintenance fee payments for more than one patent are submitted together, they should be submitted on as few sheets as possible, listing the patent numbers in increasing patent number order. If the payment submitted is insufficient to cover the maintenance fees and any surcharges for all the listed patents, the payment will be applied in the order the patents are listed. In such a circumstance the maintenance fee and any surcharge for one or more of the last listed patents will not be paid.
Money orders and checks must be made payable to the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. (Checks made payable to the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks will continue to be accepted. See 37 CFR 1.23(a)). Remittances from foreign countries must be payable and immediately negotiable in the United States for the full amount required.