With the passage of time, the value of the utilization of patents will be increased but some patents will lose their original value and may not need to be kept anymore. On the other hand, although annual fees have become remarkably high over the past several years, annual fees from the tenth year are the same due to a revision of the patent law. However, since the number of patents registered is increasing each year, it is only natural that the accumulating patent rights will also increase correspondingly. As a result, annual fees are continuing to increase.
Thus, it is desirable that patent rights be evaluated and reviewed on a regular basis, for example, every three years, so that those rights that are no longer required to be maintained can be abandoned to reduce expenses. As patent rights are automatically revoked if the annual maintenance fees are not paid, enterprises need not undertake any special transactions to dispose of them.
However, patent rights, once revoked, cannot be recovered except during the period for late payments. Therefore, enterprises should be careful when making decisions to abandon patents by setting up, for instance, in-house standards. The basic concept of the standard of the patent rights which should be continuously maintained and those which may be abandoned are given below.
Abandoning patent rights
Patents which could be disposed of are:
- Patents which are not used and have no prospects for the future.
- Patents which have lost their value due to the development of alternative technology, and would not bring any disadvantages to the enterprise even if they were used by others.
- Patents which are deemed to have lost any prospects of earning profits through licensing or assignment.