Over the past two years since enactment of the America Invents Act, the USPTO has generally been raising filing fees. They wanted the fees to be more in line with the actual costs for the particular services. Fee increases seem odd in that the Patent Office is a profitable organization within the U.S. government which should allow the Patent Office to reduce fees. Anyways, that is neither here nor there.
As of March 19, 2013, the new fee schedule has been in effect. To obtain the current USPTO fee sheet, it is best to google “current uspto fees” because anything that I post may be obsolete in the near term future. The important aspect of the new fee schedule is implementation of the micro entity fee which is generally a 75% discount from the large entity fee. Small entity fees are generally a 50% discount from the large entity fees.
On balance, most fees have gone up. However, due to the creation of the micro entity, the filing fees for the true solo inventor or start up has gone down. The definitions between large, small and micro entity are not extensive but there are a few exceptions. The basic difference between large and small entity is that the small entity employs less than 500 employees. The basic difference between small entity and micro entity is that each of the inventors make less than three times the average gross income. To qualify for micro entity, you would have to make less than $150k/year. Check with your patent attorney to determine your entity status. Be sure that you qualify from the entity that will allow you to pay the least amount of money. Over the course of prosecution, it will save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Here are a couple of unique features of the new fee structure. The Patent Office is now charging more for a second Request for Continue Examination than the first RCE. Previously, the Patent Office charged the same amount for each RCE that the applicant filed.
The America Invents Act was supposed to allow for more review of patents at the Patent Office instead of pushing the litigation to the court system. However, I’m doubtful that the new procedures for Inter Partes review and post grant review will be utilized because of the steep fees involved. Inter Partes review costs are at $23k. Post grant review costs are a $30k.
I invite you to contact me with your patent questions at (949) 433-0900 or [email protected]. Please feel free to forward this article to your friends. As an Orange County Patent Attorney, I serve Orange County, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and surrounding cities.