The America Invents Act of 2011 is best known for establishing “the First Inventor to File” system. However it also created or defined “Micro-Entities”. Micro-Entities are entitled to a 75 percent discount on filing fees. Unfortunately the definition of a Micro-Entity is convoluted.
First, a Micro-Entity is a small entity, i.e., it has fewer than 500 employees. See 37 CFR 1.27. Warning affiliates of the entity are counted in the 500 employee limitation.
Second, the Applicant (an entity owning the invention but not the inventor) or the inventor has not been named as the inventor on 5 or more previous patent applications. That qualifies most first time inventors or applicants. In addition, the following do not apply to the previous patent application limit: (i) provisional applications or applications filed in another country, (ii) PCT applications that did not enter the Chapter II or “national stage” and (iii) applications that were assigned to a past employer.
Third, the Applicant or inventor had a gross income below $152,162. Warning this income limitation is intended to change annually and you must certify you meet the current income limitation each time you pay a discounted fee.
Fourth, the Applicant or inventor has not conveyed an ownership interest or license to an entity that does not meet the $152,162 gross income limitation.
Entities qualified to pay the 75 percent discount fees also include an Applicant working for an institution of higher education or that have assigned an ownership interest to the employer institution of higher education.
Note the discounted fees apply to filing, searching, examining, issuing appealing and maintaining patents. Below is a listing of the current large entity fees:
Appealing (Notice and Brief) $1,320
Maintenance fee 3.5 $1,150
Remember Small Entities (less than 500 employees including affiliate) pay 50% of the above totals.