Micro entity status offers a 75% reduction on most patent fees. The micro entity discount on patent fees became available on Tuesday, March 19, 2013.
There are two ways on which one can qualify for micro entity status: (1) Gross Income Basis, or (2) Institution of Higher Education Basis.
(1) Gross Income Basis
To qualify for micro entity status on the gross income basis in a particular patent application, the following criteria must be met:
- The applicant qualifies as a USPTO-defined small entity;
- Neither the applicant nor the inventor nor a joint inventor has been named as an inventor on more than four previously filed applications*;
- Neither applicant nor the inventor nor a joint inventor had a gross income in the previous year from when the fee(s) is paid of more than the "Maximum Qualifying Gross Income," which is three times the median household income; and
- Neither the applicant nor the inventor nor a joint inventor has assigned, granted, or conveyed, nor is under an obligation to assign, grant, or convey, a license or other ownership interest to another entity that does not meet the same "Maximum Qualifying Gross Income" limit.
The "Maximum Qualifying Gross Income" for purposes of paying any eligible fee at the micro entity discount rate is currently $212,352.
The "Maximum Qualifying Gross Income" applies as set forth on form number PTO/SB/15A titled "Certification of Micro Entity Status (Gross Income Basis)." (View table of prior Maximum Qualifying Gross Income limits by fee payment date below.)
For inventors, applicants, and parties with an ownership interest in the application whose gross income in the preceding calendar year is not or is partially not in U.S. dollars, please use the conversion table found on the Internal Revenue Service webpage titled "Yearly Average Currency Exchange Rates Translating foreign currency into U.S. dollars" to quantify your preceding calendar year's gross income in U.S. dollars.
(2) Institution of Higher Education Basis
To qualify for micro entity status in a patent application on the institution of higher education basis (the only alternative to the gross income basis), an applicant must either:
(A) obtain the majority of their income from a United States institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)); or
(B) have assigned, granted, or conveyed, or be under an obligation by contract or law to assign, grant, or convey an ownership interest in the application to such a United States institution of higher education.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- To receive the micro entity reduced fees, you must file a form with your application showing that you meet the requirements as indicated above. These forms must be filed with every application for which you qualify and wish to receive the micro entity discount. Filers qualifying on the gross income basis should use form SB/15A. For filers qualifying on the institution of higher education basis, use form SB/15B. These forms, along with all other USPTO patent-related forms can be found on our Patents Forms page.
- Please remember that if you file a nonprovisional utility application in paper, you are subject to a non-electronic surcharge in addition to the normal fees associated with filing a nonprovisional application. There is no micro entity discount for this surcharge. That means if you are filing as a micro entity using a paper application, you will be required to pay the small entity non-electronic filing surcharge of $200. To avoid this surcharge, file electronically using EFS-Web, the USPTO's automated online solution for patent filing. The surcharge does not apply to reissue, design, plant, or provisional applications. Visit our EFS-Web resources page to learn more.
For more information on small and micro entities, see MPEP 509.02-509.04.
* The micro-entity definition states that applicants are not considered to be named on a previously filed application if he or she has assigned, or is obligated to assign, all ownership rights as a result of previous employment. Applications filed in another country, provisional applications, or international applications for which the basic national fee was not paid do not count as previously filed applications.