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Micro Entity Status at the U.S. Patent Trademark Office

Starting March 19, 2013, the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (USPTO) will reduce certain fees by 75% for applicants that are considered as having "Micro Entity" status, with the rest of the fees to be reduced by 75% in the months following after.

    For an applicant to qualify as having Micro Entity status:
•    That applicant must also qualify as having Small Entity status with the USPTO.
•    The applicant and any inventor and/or joint inventors, if not the same as the applicant, must certify they are not named on more than four previously filed patent applications at the USPTO, excluding provisional applications, certain PCT applications, and those applications result from a prior employment situation.
•    The applicant and any inventor and/or joint inventors, if not the same as the applicant,  cannot each individually have a gross income exceeding three times the median household income for that preceding calendar year, nor can the applicant assign ownership of the application to an entity that exceeds this gross income limit.
•    Micro Entities also include applicants that certify their employer as an institution of higher education, such as universities, or that the applicant is under an obligation to assign ownership to an institution of higher education.

In short, the spirit of this new law is intended to benefit independent inventors who are just starting out, having very little capital and few inventions, as well as institutions of higher education. It is easy to see that this law is somewhat confusing and not simple to grasp, with many nuances specific to each applicant's situation. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact our office for further information on whether you qualify as a Micro Entity when filing your next patent application, in continuing your current patent prosecution, or paying maintenance fees on an issued patent.  

For more information about this new law, please contact any member of MacDonald Illig's Intellectual Property Group.