December's advice article
Lower Fees Starting January 1
More good news is on the horizon for independent inventors and small businesses. Effective January 1, 2014, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will implement a revised fee schedule that reflects certain reductions in the cost of obtaining a U.S. patent. These reductions are in accordance with the USPTO's fee-setting authority provided by Section 10 of the America Invents Act. The new schedule also makes international patent protection more affordable for small and micro entities.
Most people who have never filed a patent application might be surprised to learn that there isn't just one flat fee to pay when filing for a patent. While many factors determine which fees need to be paid and at what stage of the application process, there are several fees that apply to all granted patents. One of these is the issue fee, which is due three months after an application receives a notice of allowance.
Starting January 1, the utility issue fee for small and micro entities will be reduced from $890 and $445 to $480 and $240, respectively. Reissue fees, design issue fees, and plant issue fees will also be similarly reduced, representing an approximate 45 percent across-the-board reduction in all issue fees. Additionally, after January 1, a publication fee is no longer required for all applicants-a further savings of $300.
Visit the revised fee schedule to see the full list of patent-related fees.
Small and Micro-Entity Fees for International Protection
The revised fee schedule also makes it more affordable for small and micro entities to obtain international patent protection through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT is an international patent law treaty that provides a framework for applicants to file one international patent application and seek simultaneous patent protection in any of the 148 member countries, which include the United States and almost every major industrialized nation.
Before January 1, 2014, PCT fees at the international stage do not have separate categories for small and micro entities, requiring all PCT applicants pay the same price, regardless of size. After January 1, PCT applications at the international stage will include categories for small and micro entities, representing 50 and 75 percent reductions in international stage fees, respectively.
To learn more about the Patent Cooperation Treaty, visit the USPTO PCT page or the World Intellectual Property Organization's PCT page.