A new fee schedule has recently been published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The schedule is effective for any fee paid on or after 19 March 2013.
The cost of US patents is set to become significantly more expensive for most patent owners, although there is some relief for certain individuals and small companies. A 50% fee discount has long been available for “small entities”, and now a 75% discount is to be introduced for “micro entities”.
Small entities include companies having fewer than 500 employees, small business concerns and non-profit organisations including universities located in any country, provided that the small entity has not transferred or licensed (and is under no obligation to transfer or licence) rights under the patent application to an entity that does not qualify for small entity status.
A micro entity must at least qualify as a small entity and additionally must have a limited gross annual income, must not have been named as an inventor on more than four previously filed US patent applications, and must fulfil certain requirements in connection with ownership interests in the application. Notably, US universities are eligible for micro entity status without having to meet the above requirements, but it appears that universities outside the US are not automatically eligible.
Many of the fees have been increased by 30% or more, although the notable exception is a substantial reduction in the issue fee.
The important fee changes include:
US$1,260 to US$1,600
Extension of time fees
US$150 to US$200 (1st extension)
US$570 to US$600 (2nd extension)
US$1,290 to US$1,400 (3rd extension)
US$250 to US$420 (for each independent claim over 3)
US$62 to US$80 (for each claim over 20)
Requests for Continued Examination
US$930 to US$1,200 (first)
US$930 to US$1,700 (subsequent)
US$1,770 to US$960 (from 1 January 2014)
US$1,150 to US$1,600 (3.5 years from filing date)
US$2,900 to US$3,600 (7.5 years from filing date)
US$4,810 to US$7,400 (11.5 years from filing date)