Legal Alert: A Little Rule With Big Implications: USPTO Implements New Fee Schedule Including a 75% Reduction in Patent Fees for Applicants Qualifying for "Micro Entity" Status

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On March 19, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) implemented a new fee schedule as authorized by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (Act). Among numerous changes in the fees for patent services provided by the USPTO, the new fee schedule includes a 75% reduction in fees for applicants qualifying for “micro entity” status.

Section 10(a) of the Act authorizes the Director of the USPTO to set or adjust patent fees by rulemaking, subject to certain limitations. The Act specifies that such fees may be set or adjusted only to recover the aggregate estimated cost to the USPTO of its patent operations, including administrative costs, and that individual fees may be set in a way that furthers key policy considerations.

Following a detailed review of operating costs and policy considerations, the USPTO developed the new fee schedule providing certain changes in the standard patent fees, which include: (i) increasing the initial filing, search, and examination fees for a utility application (now $1,600 total); (ii) increasing the fees for filing a first and subsequent request for continued examination (now $1,200 and $1,700, respectively); (iii) decreasing the prioritized examination fee (now $4,000); (iv) increasing, in a progressive manner, the maintenance fees for an issued patent (now $1,600 at 3.5 years, $3,600 at 7.5 years, and $7,400 at 11.5 years); and decreasing the fees for various post - grant proceedings.

Please see full alert below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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