It is strongly recommended that a maintenance fee submission by mail or facsimile include both a telephone number and a mailing address for the fee submitter because, provided the fee is sufficient, the Office may attempt to contact the submitter by telephone and/or by mail to confirm the patent to which the fee is to be applied. If the Office specially accepts a payment under any one of scenarios I – III below, a Notice of Special Acceptance of Patent Maintenance Fee (PTO-2143) will be mailed to the submitter that identifies the patent number and application number to which the maintenance fee was applied and requests the submitter to verify that the payment was applied as intended. If the payment was not applied to the intended patent, a petition (such as a petition under 37 CFR 1.377) must be filed. If the petition is not filed within 2 months of the date of the notice (PTO-2143), the petition may be dismissed as untimely, and relief may have to be pursued under 37 CFR 1.378(a-c).
I. PATENT NUMBER SUPPLIED BUT NO APPLICATION NUMBER SUPPLIED
If a maintenance fee payment identifies only the patent number (i.e., does not identify the application number for the patent on which the maintenance fee is being paid), the Office may apply the payment to the patent identified by the patent number in the payment or may return the payment. See 37 CFR 1.366(c).
II. PATENT NUMBER AND APPLICATION NUMBER SUPPLIED BUT THEY DO NOT CORRESPOND
When a patent number and an application number are both supplied, but they do not correspond to the same patent, the Office will generally apply the payment to the patent identified by the patent number, if possible. Even if the payment is sufficient and timely to pay the maintenance fee due in the patent identified by the patent number, the Office may return the payment if additional information on the payment submission is inconsistent with the patent identified by the patent number. The Office may even apply the payment to the patent identified by the application number if the additional information corroborates that patent. Such may be the case, for example, where the fee submitter is the addressee named in the correspondence address or fee address of the patent identified by the application number.
III. NO PATENT NUMBER SUPPLIED BUT APPLICATION NUMBER SUPPLIED
If a maintenance fee is due on the patent identified by the application number and the payment submitted is sufficient, the Office may apply the payment to the patent (provided additional corroborating information is present) or may return the payment.