One of the new provisions of the America Invents Act is the new category of applicants termed “micro entities”. The principal advantage of meeting the classification of a micro entity is that the USPTO fees are discounted 75%. The operation of the micro entity provision is effective immediately (unlike many of the provisions of America Invents Act that take effect one year or more after enactment.
To be classified as a micro entity, you must meet the following criteria:
You have not been named in more than four previous patent applications. But provisional applications do not count. Neither do patent applications naming you as inventor that were assigned to your employer as part of your employment contract.
Further, there is an income restriction for claiming micro-entity status. In the prior year, you also can not have had gross income (determined by IRS regulations) more than three times the median household income as determined by the Census Bureau. This equates to approximately $150,000.00.
Finally, you can not be contractually bound to assign the application to an entity that does not meet the micro-entity test.