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August 1, 2014 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By guest columnist Karen Kitchens, Wyoming State Library, intellectual property/documents librarian
“I understand there have been changes in patent application fees. How do I know if my small business can qualify for the new lower patent application fees?” Gilbert, Cheyenne
There is good news for independent inventors and small businesses. The America Invents Act (AIA), which was passed by Congress in 2011, includes a provision to create a new group of inventors that can pay 75 percent less in government fees -- as compared to large entities -- to obtain a patent. This new group is called micro-entities.
Micro-entities are different than small entities. Small entities can pay fees which are reduced by 50 percent compared to large entities. Beginning last January, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) implemented a revised fee schedule to reflect certain reductions in the cost of obtaining a U.S. patent.
A small entity is listed as a nonprofit organization; an entity which/who does not, together with all affiliates, have 500 or more employees; and which/who has not assigned, licensed or otherwise conveyed, and is under no obligation to assign, license, or otherwise convey, an interest in the invention to a non-small entity.
To qualify as a micro entity, an applicant must meet all of the following criteria: qualify as a USPTO-defined small entity; not be named on more than four previously filed applications; not have a gross income more than three times the median household income in the previous year from when the fee(s) is paid (for 2011, the most recent year data are available, the median income was $50,054); and not be under obligation to assign, grant or convey a license or other ownership to another entity that does not meet the same income requirements as the inventor.
To put this fee reduction into perspective, the previous filing fee for a provisional application for a patent was $250. Thus, a small entity would receive a reduction of 50 percent, resulting in a $125 filing fee.
After the fee change March 19, the base cost of filing a provisional application increased to $260, resulting in a cost of $130 for small entities. For micro-entities receiving the 75 percent reduction, this means a provisional application fee of only $65.
Additional information is available at the AIA implementation page on the USPTO website. Also, check the USPTO’s complete fee schedule to see the current costs associated with all patent and trademark services.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.