As you may be aware, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Patent Act 2004 came into force with effect from 4 August 2008, and the corresponding Regulations came into force on 8 July 2009. 

Inter alia, the new law introduced the requirement to pay annuities annually in respect of the second and each subsequent year from the filing date of an application. A grace period of six months is provided in the law for the late payment of annuities, upon payment of a 10% surcharge. If the relevant fees are not paid, the patent or application is deemed to have lapsed.

There has been significant confusion over the last few months regarding this requirement to pay annuities, as the Registrar did not issue any guidance as to which fees were due and when they were payable. However, the Registrar has finally announced that he will now accept annuity payments falling due on or after the date of implementation of the new Regulations (8 July 2009), for all patent applications and granted patents. The due dates of these annuities are calculated from the UK filing date for reregistration applications, and from the PCT filing date for PCT national phase applications, and the first fee payable is that which fell/falls due on the next anniversary of that effective filing date occurring after 8 July 2009. No other back fees are payable. 

Notwithstanding the above, in view of the fact that the six month grace period has already expired or will shortly expire for any renewal fees falling due on or shortly after 8 July 2009, the Registrar has apparently indicated that no fees will be payable in respect of any renewals falling due in July, August, September or October 2009. Instead, the relevant 2010 fees will be the first fees payable in those cases. We have requested a copy of an official notice from the Registry confirming this special dispensation, but it appears that the Registrar is currently out of the island and so no such written confirmation has therefore been forthcoming. We are extremely concerned that, in the absence of any evidence in writing that renewals falling due in July, August, September and October 2009 are not payable, any such patent cases may be vulnerable to attack in the future. We would therefore strongly recommend that we attempt to pay any fees falling within this four-month time frame, so that at least there is evidence on the official file that an attempt to pay the fees was made (even if the fees are refused by the Registrar).

Please check your records to ensure that all of your St. Vincent patent cases are accounted for. Please let us know if you would like us to attend to the payment of any such annuities on your behalf.