Patent Reform passes the U.S. Senate

Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011.

Yesterday (Tuesday, March 8th), the United States Senate passed the “America Invests Act of 2011” by a vote of 95-5. As I have previously written on this blog, the act is a significant overhaul of the patent system in the U.S. The House of Representatives will be next to take up patent reform. Given the different political makeup in the House, it will be interesting to see whether the same provisions are in that bill, or if a serious attempt to retain our “First to Invent” system will be made.

Meanwhile, I thought I would post about another interesting provision of the bill that was passed yesterday: the establishment of a separate discounted fee for “micro-entities”. Currently, many PTO fees are halved for individuals and organizations with fewer than 500 employees. On the fee calculation worksheets, there is a checkbox for “Small Entity” status which I check for most of my clients.

Inherent in the new bill is a new category, the “micro-entity”. Individual inventors will qualify for micro-entity status under the bill and be eligible for a 75% discount on many of their fees. Now, assuming individuals can beat larger, well-funded inventive entities in the race to the filing window that will be the result of the shift to “First to File”, the prize is they are at least eligible for a reduced cost of dealing with the Patent and Trademark Office.

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