As part of the America Invents Act (AIA) and in response to the increasing costs of patent protection, particularly for individuals, the USPTO is introducing a new classification, to coincide with the Large Entity (regular fees) and the Small Entity (fees reduced by half). The new entity is entitled the “Micro Entity” and will receive fees that are the equivalent of one quarter of the Large Entity or regular fees.
While this designation was included in the original implementation of the AIA, the rules called for the USPTO to produce a new fee schedule (adjusting fees for “filing, searching, examining, issuing, appealing, and maintaining patent applications and patents”1) prior to the designation being activated. The new fee schedule, including Micro Entity fees, will come into force effective March 19, 2013 and can be found on the USPTO website. Other changes to fees will occur at that time as well, and a study of the fee schedule (including fees for maintenance, which are increasing dramatically) should be made available in due time.
In order to qualify for Micro Entity status, the USPTO (in accordance with the AIA definition of micro entity) requires the applicant to certify that he/she:
- qualifies as a small entity;
- has not been named as an inventor on more than four previously filed patent applications;
- did not, in the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the applicable fee is paid, have a gross income exceeding three times the median household income; and
- has not assigned, granted, or conveyed (and is not under obligation to do so) 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 paid, had a gross income exceeding three times the median household income.
According to the USPTO, “when applying the micro-entity definition, applicants are not considered to be named on a previously-filed application if he/she has assigned, or is obligated to assign, ownership rights as a result of previous employment. The definition includes applicants who are employed by an institute of higher education (as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1001(a)) and have assigned, or are obligated to assign, ownership to that institute of higher education.” Median household income is defined in section 61(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 61(a)).
We will keep you informed of developments relating to the changes above and potential implications through future updates. Feel free to contact Dennemeyer Chicago at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 312 380 6500 if you need advice or guidance on any of these aspects.
1 See section 10 of the AIA