Definition : Annuity

An annuity is, in industrial property terms, an annual fee that holders of intellectual property rights must pay to maintain their intellectual property rights in force. This fee is often paid for patents, trademarks and industrial designs.

The payment of annuities is important, as it ensures that the intellectual property right remains in force for the statutory term of protection. This limited period is generally 20 years for patents, 10 years for industrial designs and 10 years, renewable indefinitely, for trademarks.

Non-payment of an annuity may result in the expiry of the right in question. So, for example, when the annual instalments are no longer paid, the invention covered by the patent falls into the public domain, meaning that anyone can freely exploit it. It is therefore important for the holders of these rights to take account of these annual fees and pay them on time to keep their rights in force. The annual fees must be paid each year no later than the last day of the anniversary month of the filing.

It is important to note that the rules concerning annuities vary from country to country, and that fee amounts may vary according to the duration of protection granted and the type of industrial property right in question. Rights holders should therefore consult the relevant laws and regulations.