It has been several months since everyone had to start paying a fifteen percent increase on patent fees via the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) due to the enactment of the America Invents Act. However, if you weren’t aware of this fact, you can also check out USPTO’s latest patent fee schedule.
But you might be asking yourself, “I thought that I heard that small independent inventors would be paying 75% less in fees now that the America Invents Act was passed”? Although you may have that perfect invention idea floating around in your head just waiting for the opportunity to file a patent at a reduced cost you need to be aware of a few things:
- The USPTO is still in the process of resetting their patent fees. Starting in September 2011, the USPTO has planned a rough 17 month implementation timeframe to get these fees finalized. Hopefully around February 2013, the reduced fees for micro entities will be enacted. Until then, let’s first figure out if you will meet the qualifications to be a micro entity.
Criteria for Micro Entity Status – Will I Qualify?
- You must qualify as a “small entity”. What’s a small entity, you ask? Well, it’s an independent inventor like you, a small business (which must employ less than 500 people), or a nonprofit organization.
- You must not have been listed as the inventor on four (4) previously filed patent applications (which can include design patents, utility patents, plant patents, and even provisional patent applications). If you filed a patent while working for a company that owned your patent rights, then this patent application will NOT count as one of your four previously filed patent applications. In addition, if you are employed by an institution of higher learning (such as a college or university) and you were obligated to sign over your invention rights, then this patent application will NOT count as one of your four previously field patent applications.
- You must not have had a gross income over 3 times the median household income. Currently, the median household income in the United States is roughly $50,000. Therefore, to qualify as a “micro entity” your family must not make over approximately $150,000 a year.
- You weren’t under the obligation to sign your invention over to a “large entity” (such as a corporation with a gross income exceeding approximately $150,000).
It’s only a matter of when rather than if the micro entity fees will be established by the USPTO. Unfortunately, without having a specific date set in stone, independent inventors, just like you will need to bide their time before reaping the benefits of reduced fees.
Hopefully by now, you have realized what the criteria are for micro entity status and whether you qualify or not. In the meantime, keep generating those invention ideas!