How to Know if Patents Are Abandoned
By Dani Arbuckle
If a company has a patent on a product, then you will have to negotiate with it for the right to manufacture it yourself. But that is only if the patent is still in force. If a patent owner stops paying the patent maintenance fees then it will become abandoned. In this case, you can produce the product without the permission of the former patent owner. Find out if a patent has been abandoned searching the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Application Information Retrieval system.
Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's search portal site (portal.uspto.gov).
Select the public Patent Application Information Retrieval search by clicking "Public PAIR."
Select whether you want to search for the patent by application number, control number, patent number, PCT number or publication number. Enter the number in the text box and click "search."
Check the status of the patent on the resulting page. If the patent has been abandoned then it will say "Patent Expired Due to NonPayment of Maintenance Fees." It will also indicate if the patent has expired for other reasons or if it is still active.
A patent owner can revive an abandoned patent under certain circumstances within 24 months of the expiration. However, you can still be granted intervening rights that allow you to use it if you have already begun manufacturing the product or have invested in preparation of doing so.