October's featured article

USPTO Announces New Fee Schedule

By Paul Fucito : Office of the Chief Communications Officer

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced its revised fee schedule on September 16, 2011, following the America Invents Act (Public Law 112-29) which was signed into law by President Barack Obama the same day. The enactment of the legislation places a 15 percent surcharge on certain patent fees that became effective September 26, 2011. For a full list of fee changes, please go to the 15 Percent Surcharge Fee document on the USPTO's America Invents Act online guide.

There have been a number of inquiries from the public regarding the fees due when payments are made by postal mail just prior to the effective date of the 15 percent surcharge. The fee due is the fee in effect on the date the document is filed. Here are the USPTO postal mailing options.

Certificate of Mailing or Transmission

Certain fees, such as issue and maintenance fees, may be paid through the postal mail using a certificate of mailing or transmission. See 37 C.F.R. 1.8. Correspondence will be considered as being timely filed on the date of transmission that appears on the certificate. Fees paid by postal mail with the properly filed certificates of mailing or transmission dated prior to September 26, 2011, are not subject to the15 percent surcharge.

Filing by Express Mail

Correspondences were considered as being timely filed on the date the correspondence was deposited with a U.S. post office, if the express mail procedures described in 37 CFR 1.10 were followed. Therefore, fees paid by using the express mail will not be subject to the 15 percent fee increase if deposited with a U.S. post office, under the provisions of 37 CFR 1.10, prior to September 26, 2011.

USPTO accepts checks, money orders, credit card authorization, or deposit account authorization. Electronic payment methods are also available. Additional information on the currently accepted methods of payment is available at the USPTO's Frequently Asked Questions.

Micro Entities

At this time, the USPTO may not offer the micro entity discount of 75 percent on any fees. As provided for in the America Invents Act (Public Law 112-29), these fees will be adjusted under the fee setting authority provided for in Section 10 of the America Invents Act. The act continues to provide a small entity discount of 50 percent under 35U.S.C. § 41(h)(1).

Once the USPTO sets these new fees, it is anticipated that the new fees will include a 50 percent reduction for small entities and a 75 percent reduction for micro entities for filing, searching, examining, issuing, appealing, and maintaining patent applications and patents. Applicants qualifying for a small entity discount of 50 percent will be those who meet the current definition in 35 U.S.C. 41(h)(1) while applicants qualifying for a micro entity discount of 75 percent will be those who meet the definition outlined in the America Invents Act Section 11(g).

For more frequently asked questions on the America Invents Act implementation please refer to the USPTO's online guide.

The revised USPTO fee schedule is available at the USPTO fees webpage.

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The USPTO gives you useful information and non-legal advice in the areas of patents and trademarks. The patent and trademark statutes and regulations should be consulted before attempting to apply for a patent or register a trademark. These laws and the application process can be complicated. If you have intellectual property that could be patented or registered as a trademark, the use of an attorney or agent who is qualified to represent you in the USPTO is advised.