On December 19, 2012, the USPTO published its final rules to implement micro entity provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA).
If you are a startup or an individual inventor, it is worth becoming familiar with these rules as a micro entity can save 75% on certain PTO fees in the future.
So what is a micro entity? 35 U.S.C. 123(a) provides a "micro entity" is an applicant who can certify it (1) qualifies as a small entity as defined 37 CFR 1.27; (2) has not been named an inventor on four previously filed U.S. nonprovisional patent applications; (3) did not, in the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the application fee is being paid, have a gross income, as defined by 26 U.S.C. 61(a), exceeding three times the median household income for that preceding year (or as reported to the Census Bureau). So if you paid the fee in 2013 you would look at U.S. median household incomes in 2012.
I found a NYT article U.S. Income Gap Rose, Sign of Uneven Recovery stating the US median household income was $50,054 in 2011. Since US median household income has slightly decreased in recent years, it suggests falling under $150,000 may suffice. Note this is just a guess and if you have a link to official data for 2012, please email it so I can give a more accurate income number.
Also my practice is to pay the larger amount on PTO fees unless the applicant is clearly qualified. It may appear to be waste, but courts have been quite harsh to applicants who paid small entity fees improperly. I imagine similar scenarios for a micro entity that makes that type of mistake.
Can you take advantage of the micro entity fee reduction today? Unfortunately, not yet. The micro entity rules will be effective on March 19, 2013, and the micro entity fee schedule is expected in Spring 2013.
Copyright © 2013 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.