In a Federal Register Notice dated August 3, 2020, the USPTO published a final rule on fee changes that take effect October 2, 2020. The final rule implements fee changes we first learned about in August of 2018, with some adjustments made in response to feedback from the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) and public comments.
Four Types Of Fee Adjustments
As summarized on the USPTO fee-setting page, the final rule implements four types of fee adjustments:
- An approximate 5% across-the-board adjustment to patent fees, explained as an approximate 2% annual increase “to help the USPTO keep up with inflation in order to achieve strategic goals.”
- Greater adjustments to specific fees “to encourage the effective administration of the IP system and to permit cost recovery for certain services.”
- New fees for non-DOCX filings ($400, with implementation delayed until January 2022) and for pro hac vice admission ($250 biannually).
- Four discontinued fees—three relating to patent service fees and one related to an Office of Enrollment and Discipline USPTO-assisted recovery of ID or password reset fee.
Significant October 2020 Fee Increases
A review of the USPTO’s Table of Patent Fee Adjustments shows a number of fees increasing by more than 5%, including the following (with Large Entity rates listed):
- Issue Fee: 20% increase to $1200
- First (3.5 year) Maintenance Fee: 25% increase to $2000
- Late Maintenance Fee Payment Surcharge: 21.3% increase to $500
- Expedited Examination of Design Patent Application: 78% increase to $1600
- Inter Partes Review Request Fee: 23% increase to $19,000
- Post Grant Review Request Fee: 25% increase to $20,000
The ~5% increases to the utility patent filing, search and examination fees will add up to $100 more, for a total of $1820. The increases to the PCT application transmittal and search fees will add up to $120 more, for a total of $2440.
Raising Fees In These Challenging Times
According to the USPTO, the effective date was pushed back from July 2020 to October 2020, in view of “the state of the U.S. economy,” and “consistent with the USPTO’s many other efforts to provide various types of [coronavirus] relief to stakeholders.” As explained in the Federal Register Notice, the fee changes are designed to “provide the USPTO sufficient financial resources to facilitate the effective administration of the U.S. IP system,” including its efforts to improve patent quality and timeliness, support the work of the PTAB, and improve the “quality, efficiency, and productivity of patent operations” and the USPTO's IT systems.