Benefits of a Provisional Patent Application Micro Entity

If you are an inventor, small business, or non-profit that qualifies as a micro entity and pays USPTO fees associated with filing and maintaining your patent application, then you could potentially save money.

Under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, the Office can reduce many fees set or adjusted under 37 CFR 1.27 by 50% for small entities and 75% for micro entities. This article will outline the qualifications for claiming micro entity status and how to determine if you meet them.


No matter if you’re an independent inventor or small business, the cost of filing for a patent application can be substantial. You’ll need to cover attorney’s fees for preparation and filing as well as USPTO filing and issuance fees.

The cost of filing for a provisional patent or non-provisional utility application (micro entity) varies based on your invention’s complexity; however, typically costs around $2,000. You should also budget for any legal fees that could arise should another party object to your invention.

Provisional patent applications are a cost-effective, short-term way to gain patent protection that expires after one year. They’re ideal for testing out ideas and getting feedback before you decide whether or not to pursue non-provisional patent application.

If your business qualifies for micro entity status, filing a provisional patent application or non-provisional utility application through Patent Center – the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online solution for patent filing – can save you the small entity non-electronic filing surcharge. However, if you opt to file paper versions of these types of applications, then the small entity non-electronic filing surcharge still applies.

Micro entity status was introduced under the America Invents Act in 2011 as a way for small businesses and individual inventors to reduce their patent fees. To qualify, an applicant must not have appeared on more than four previous applications, have gross income that’s less than three times median household income in the year prior to filing, and have an affiliation with an institution of higher learning.

For instance, an applicant who derives the majority of their income from a referenced university and is under obligation to assign or license their patent to the institution may qualify for micro entity status.

Micro entity filing fees offer significant savings on the USPTO’s filing and maintenance fees. It’s an effective way to save money on the entire process, so it’s recommended that you consider it when creating your patent application budget. But be sure to read all applicable rules and regulations thoroughly – there are some essential things you must be aware of before claiming micro entity status.


The primary advantage of using a provisional patent application micro entity is that it gives inventors their product in an ‘invention-pending’ status, which can be useful for marketing and fundraising efforts. Inventors can take this time to refine and perfect their invention before filing for traditional patent protection.

Another advantage for micro entity status applicants is a 75 percent discount on fees at the USPTO. This discount can amount to substantial savings over the life of a patent.

Micro entity applicants can range from individuals to small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations. To be eligible for micro entity status, an applicant must meet certain income and filing criteria.

To be eligible for micro entity status, an applicant must have a gross income in the year prior to application that is less than three times the median household income in America. For instance, if median household income in 2016 was $50,000, each applicant, inventor, and joint inventor must have an aggregate gross income under $150,000 to meet requirements.

An applicant’s income can fluctuate during the year, potentially impacting their ability to maintain micro entity status for the entirety of that year. If this occurs, a notification of loss of entitlement to micro entity status under 37 CFR 1.29(i) must be filed.

It is essential to check the income limit each year (usually in September or October) in order to maintain micro entity status. Furthermore, an inventor or applicant must reevaluate whether they still meet the gross income basis requirements as defined by 35 U.S.C. 123(a) and 123(d) each time a fee is paid on an application or patent.

One of the primary motivations inventors choose to file for a provisional patent is to reduce costs. Unfortunately, in many cases it proves ineffective since it will never grant them an official patent.

Ultimately, inventors should only utilize a provisional patent application when their product has value and will be beneficial to them. Otherwise, investing in a provisional patent application is simply a waste of time and money.


Provisional patent application micro entity status is a status that allows applicants and patentees to receive up to 75% reductions on certain fees, according to USPTO Regulation 37 CFR 1.29. To attain this status, applicants and patentees must meet certain criteria outlined in that regulation.

Micro entity status holders can take advantage of a fee reduction for as long as they maintain their status and pay their fees according to the current USPTO fees schedule. It’s wise to review these charges regularly in order to ensure you’re not paying more than necessary.

Establishing micro entity status requires proof that your income is lower than three times the average household income in the United States for the preceding calendar year, as reported by the IRS. You must file form SB/15A (to qualify on gross income basis) or SB/15B (to qualify on institution of higher learning basis) along with each application for this status.

As a sole inventor, you must certify that your income is lower than three times the median household income in America for the previous year and does not exceed the maximum qualifying gross income as defined by 35 U.S.C. 123(a).

Additionally, you must certify that no ownership interest in the invention has been transferred or required to be transferred to an assignee or licensee who exceeds the maximum qualifying gross income as set out in 34 U.S.C. 123(a)(4).

Note that this requirement does not apply if the deceased inventor was named an applicant and assigned all of his or her rights to an assignee who does not exceed the maximum qualifying gross income as defined by 36 U.S.C 123(a).

The Office typically does not question a certification of micro entity status made in accordance with SS 1.29(a) or (d). In the event an inventor passes away and an assignee is named on their patent application as an applicant, then that assignee must certify that no ownership interest in the invention has been transferred or obligated to be transferred beyond what qualifies as qualifying gross income per 34 U.S.C 122(a).

If the gross income limit isn’t met, notification of loss of micro entity status under 37 CFR 1.29(i) must be filed in the patent application or patent before you can pay any fees that do not include the micro entity amount. If this amount was used to pay a fee and you don’t meet this requirement, applicable patent fees will be recalculated according to the current fee schedule.


Micro entities are businesses or individuals of small size who may qualify to pay patent fees at a reduced rate. On average, small entities receive fifty percent reduction and micro entities seventy-five percent.

Micro entity status is an option available to applicants who meet certain criteria, including a limit on how many previously filed U.S. nonprovisional patent applications the applicant can claim as a micro entity and income requirements for qualifying for the fee discount.

To be eligible for micro entity status, an applicant must not have exceeded three times the median household income as reported by the Bureau of Census in the year before filing their application. This gross income level requirement applies to both inventors and any other party with a 37 CFR 1.29(a)(4) “ownership interest.”

The applicant must not have retransferred rights in their application unless they met the 37 CFR 1.29(a)(4) certification requirement. Furthermore, if an applicant transfers rights in their application to a corporation and that corporation exceeds its income level, then it will no longer qualify for micro entity status.

An applicant may qualify for micro entity status through an institution of higher education if they meet certain criteria and their gross income level hasn’t exceeded that in the year prior to filing. Furthermore, institutions of higher learning can qualify as micro entities if all ownership interests in the application remain with them.

It is essential to be aware that in order for an applicant to qualify for micro entity status, each inventor must certify their eligibility in accordance with 37 CFR 1.29(d) and 37 CFR 1.28. Alternatively, a micro entity can remove its micro entity status by filing an application under 37 CFR 1.29(i).

Additionally, an applicant or patentee may lose their micro entity status if the Office discovers that it was established incorrectly or failed to notify it of loss as required by 37 CFR 1.29(k). As with small entity status, fees as a micro entity should be paid either in small entity amounts or undiscounted amounts.