The US Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has provided a 50% reduction in patent application fees for “small entity” applicants. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) created a new classification called a “micro entity”. A micro entity is expected to pay fees discounted by 75%. The discounted fees will apply to filing, searching, examination, issue, appeal and maintenance.
Even though applicants can claim micro entity status, the USPTO has not yet established a fee schedule that includes the micro entity fees. Those fees are expected to become available in 2013.
The new micro entity classification is established in 35 USC Section 123. Under Section 123, an application must make four (4) certifications:
(1) qualifies as a small entity, as defined in regulations issued by the Director. This means the applicant must be an individual, or a a small business having less than 500 employees, or a non-profit organization. Also, the applicant cannot have or be obligated to assigned or licensed rights to the invention to an entity that does not qualify as a small entity;
(2) has not been named as an inventor on more than 4 previously filed patent applications, other than applications filed in another country, provisional applications under section 111(b), or international applications filed under the treaty defined in section 351(a) for which the basic national fee under section 41(a) was not paid;
(3) did not, in the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the applicable fee is being paid, have a gross income, as defined in section 61(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, exceeding 3 times the median household income for that preceding calendar year, as most recently reported by the Bureau of the Census. Over the past few years the median income has been $50,000, so the gross income limitation is expected to be $150,000; and
(4) has not assigned, granted, or conveyed, and is not under an obligation by contract or law to assign, grant, or convey, a license or other ownership interest in the application concerned to an entity that, in the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the applicable fee is being paid, had a gross income, as defined in section 61(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, exceeding 3 times the median household income for that preceding calendar year. Here again the limit is expected to be $150,000.
Also Institutions Of Higher Education will qualify as a micro entity if they certify that:
(1) the applicant’s employer, from which the applicant obtains the majority of the applicant’s income, is an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)); or
(2) the applicant has assigned, granted, conveyed, or is under an obligation by contract or law, to assign, grant, or convey, a license or other ownership interest in the particular applications to such an institution of higher education recently reported by the Bureau of the Census.
Contact our office if you would like further information on this update.