In recent months, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") has been implementing changes to patent law required by the America Invents Act of 2011, also known as patent reform. The latest round of changes revises filing fees for all applicants, and creates a new type of applicant known as the "micro entity" which qualifies for significant fee discounts.
For many years, the USPTO recognized two types of patent applicants: large entities and small entities. While determining small versus large entity status is not always trivial, the general rule is that companies with more than 500 employees are considered large entities, while individuals, companies with 500 or less employees, and non-profit organizations are considered small entities. Traditionally, the USPTO offered small entities a 50% discount on most fees, including patent filing, searching, and examination. Now, with the advent of patent reform, Congress has created a new type of applicant and further reduced patent application fees.
Starting March 19, 2013, there will be three types of patent applicants: large entities, small entities, and micro entities. The USPTO will continue to offer a 50% discount on fees to small entities, but for micro entities the discount now increases to 75%. That is a significant discount compared to regular filing fees paid by large entities. For example, under the new regime, a large entity can be expected to pay approximately $1,600 in fees to file a utility patent application, including the filing, search, and examination fees. In contrast, a micro entity is estimated to pay about $400 to file the same type of application. And a small entity will fall in the middle, with estimated filing fees of $800. Whether you qualify as a small or micro entity, we encourage our clients to take advantage of the reduced filing fees, which will help alleviate some of the costs associated with patent prosecution.
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Disclaimer: This post is intended as a general overview of applicable law and practices, and is not intended to convey legal advice about your specific situation. Please consult with an attorney when formulating an approach. Kheyfits PLLC expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all content of this website without first consulting with Kheyfits PLLC.
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