The IPKat and Merpel regularly receive vast quantities of marketing literature. Much of it is plainly irrelevant to the content of an IP weblog and some of it, while relevant to the subject, is of insufficient interest or significance to mention to our readership. However, the following piece of marketing literature is not only relevant but a little cheeky, if not perhaps a bit offensive. In relevant part it runs like this:
Daylight Robbery: the hidden fees charged for annual patent renewals
This is how the usual patent
renewal businesses are portrayed
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.RenewalsDesk.com is run by RenewalsDesk Ltd, a company based in London. The website does not lead visitors in the direction of any particular named individual, but the email received by this Kat offers an interview with Katherine Hedley, with whom this Kat thinks he has yet to be acquainted.
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! [Goodness! Merpel exclaims: but where does this assertion come from?] 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.
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.
So RenewalsDesk.com has come up with a simple solution. It has collated all of the information about these renewal costs on a freely accessible website.
And if you wish, you can set up an auto-pay arrangement to ensure the payments are made every year until you decide to stop them. The charges levied for this service are a fraction of the current costs and are clearly shown.
You would not normally accept paying up to 4 times the true cost of your bills. Why put up with it any longer for your patent renewal charges? ...
This Kat is not in a position to make a value-for-money comparison of specialist renewals companies like CPA Global, Dennemeyer and Patrafee with each other or with web-based systems such as RenewalsDesk (though his sure that many of his readers will have plenty to say on the subject). He is however decidedly uncomfortable with the designation of their services and pricing as being "daylight robbery", or indeed any other kind of robbery, in what had struck him as being a genuinely competitive market for services that patent owner are quite welcome to dispense with.
Merpel notes the covering email which introduces the text quoted above, in which the author writes:
"In the UK, businesses hold onto their patents for less time than in almost any other part of the world (according to research by the WIPO) and that may be due to these fees which are plagued with hidden fees often resulting in patent holders paying 4x more than they need to for each patent they hold".She suspects that there may be other, more cogent reasons and, again, would love to hear from readers on this issue.