USPTO Fee Changes

Posted Sunday, March 17, 2013.

The US Patent and Trademark Office will be changing its fees effective Tuesday, March 19.

One aspect of the fee changes is to more fully implement the “micro entity” discount. The patent office has historically granted a 50% discount in fees to applicants claiming “small entity” status, which include small businesses as defined by the SBA (fewer than 500 employees, among other requirements).

The micro entity is an applicant who is a small entity with four or fewer patent applications and has an annual gross income as defined by IRS rules below a particular threshhold announced by the patent office each year. The income threshhold will be set at three times the median household income for that preceding calendar year. Previously, micro entities were entitled to the 75% discount on the filing fee, but will now enjoy the discount throughout the fee schedule for as long as their status remains a micro entity.

Other interesting aspects of the new fees are that the patent office plans to drop the $300 publication fee (which was not discounted even for small entities), and to change the fee structure for Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs). Previously, in a case where the applicant desired more than one continued examination, the fee for each RCE request was the same. Now, however, the first RCE have a “first RCE request fee” and each subsequent RCE will have a “second and subsequent RCE request fee” which is 42% higher than for the first RCE.

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