What Is a Provisional Patent Fee Micro Entity?

A provisional patent fee micro entity is a business or inventor that qualifies for reduced filing fees to file a provisional patent application. These costs are usually 50-75% less than the standard filing fee.

The USPTO has made it easier for small businesses and inventors to obtain legal protection by introducing micro entity status. This is an ideal option for those just beginning in invention and want to safeguard their ideas.

What is a Micro Entity?

Micro entities are types of small companies eligible for discounts on USPTO patent fees under the America Invents Act. This status allows applicants to reduce their expenses related to filing, searching, examination, issuance, appeals and maintenance in the US.

Status is usually granted to individuals and organizations that meet certain criteria. Applicants with this status can save up to 75% on standard application, search and examination fees compared to standard charges; further helping keep patenting costs in check.

Micro entities can be an attractive option for many those attempting to obtain their first patent and needing to keep costs down. The reduced fee amount helps inventors stay in business, enabling them to develop new products and services with greater efficiency.

Your eligibility as a micro entity can be affected by several factors, including the type of work you do and annual income limits set by the United States government. These requirements differ based on your industry.

Micro entities must typically have a gross income that is no more than three times the median household income in 2021; thus, your business’ revenue cannot exceed $169,548 in that year.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, if your company is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and has fewer than 500 employees, then it will qualify for micro entity status according to IRS standards as their income levels are considered low by the IRS.

Some universities may qualify for micro entity status, provided they have not assigned or licensed rights in their applications to a large company. While this can be an advantageous way of reducing patent filing costs, it’s essential that the university maintains an excellent track record in avoiding actions which might invalidate their status as a micro entity.

Micro entity status must be certified once in each application or patent that seeks the discount. If any rights are later assigned to a party that does not meet the criteria for micro entity status, another certification of eligibility for that status must be made within the application or patent.

How do I qualify as a Micro Entity?

As a provisional patent fee micro entity, you can reduce your USPTO patent fees by up to 75 percent. This represents an enormous savings opportunity for small businesses and inventors.

Be aware that in order to qualify for micro entity status, you must meet certain qualifications. This can be a challenging process; if you or your company are uncertain if they meet the qualifications, seek legal counsel before filing a claim with the U.S. Patent Office (USPTO).

First, your income must fall within a certain range to qualify for micro entity status. Typically, this limit is around $200,000 on an annual basis.

Additionally, you must not have been named as an inventor on more than four previous patent applications. This requirement applies if you are an independent inventor but it could also apply if employed by a large corporation.

Another requirement for applying for micro entity status is that your gross income not exceed the Maximum Qualifying Gross Income for the year in which you apply – currently $155,817.

Micro entity status can be disqualified if applicants have transferred any ownership interest in their patent application to an entity with gross income exceeding $1 million annually. For instance, assigning or transferring patent rights to an employer with more than $1 million in annual receipts could disqualify them from consideration.

Furthermore, it’s wise to update your status with the USPTO each time you file a fee for a patent. Neglecting to do so could result in losing your micro entity status and necessitate paying higher fees thereafter.

Finally, be wary of making false claims of micro entity status with the U.S. patent office; doing so could be seen as fraudulence by the USPTO and result in your patent being denied or invalidated.

Remember, you must file a certification with each micro entity-qualifying application, including divisional, continuing, continuation-in-part and reissue applications. This certification should be signed by the inventors or their assignee. If not done in accordance with these requirements, your patent may face higher fees and not be approved by the USPTO.

What are the requirements to qualify as a Micro Entity?

Micro entity status is a USPTO fee discount that can save applicants substantial money when filing patent applications. To be eligible, an applicant must meet several criteria, such as being an individual, small business concern or non-profit organization and having gross income less than three times the median household income for the year prior to paying the micro entity fee.

Micro entities must not have been named an inventor on more than four previously filed patent applications, nor may they have assigned, granted, or conveyed (without being under an obligation to do so) a license or other ownership interest in the application concerned.

Micro entities must certify they meet these criteria by filing a Certification of Micro Entity Status form with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This certification may be made by either the sole inventor, or two or more joint inventors.

Once an applicant meets these requirements, they can begin paying the micro entity fee. It’s essential to remember that making a false claim of micro entity status could constitute fraud on the U.S. Patent Office and lead to invalidation of the patent in question.

Another advantage of micro entity status is that it reduces the amount of time an applicant or their attorney must spend working with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This can be especially helpful if they have an innovative product idea but lack funds to hire a legal counsel for filing a patent application.

Once an applicant has qualified as a micro entity, it is essential to monitor their status with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Any changes must be reported via loss of entitlement notification, which must be filed within 60 days of the change. Failure to file these notifications could lead to legal problems; additionally, the USPTO has the power to revoke an applicant’s micro entity status and charge higher fees.

How do I pay the Micro Entity fee?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers discounts to small entities and micro entities who apply for patents with reduced fees. These savings can be especially advantageous to entrepreneurs who may otherwise struggle to cover full filing costs.

To be eligible for the micro entity fee, applicants must meet certain requirements. They must earn no more than the annual income limit set and have not been named an inventor on more than four U.S. non-provisional patent applications that were not assigned to a previous employer. Furthermore, institutions of higher education are also eligible for this discount.

Eligible applicants should submit Form SB/15A or SB/15B along with each application they submit, to prove their status. You can find these forms on our Patents Forms page.

Once a Micro Entity certification is filed, it must be reviewed each time an applicant pays their patent fee. This ensures that applicants don’t mistakenly pay the Micro Entity amount when they actually belong to a Large Entity or other entity that does not qualify for this reduced rate.

It can be a tedious process, particularly for small businesses and individual inventors who must decide whether or not they should file for a provisional patent. To make the process smoother, consider hiring an attorney who specializes in micro entity cases to assist you.

The Micro Entity fee typically accounts for a significant portion of an applicant’s overall patent filing costs. This is because patent applications often come with additional fees associated with them, such as an original search fee, examination fee, issue fee, extension of time/request for continued examination fees and patent maintenance charges.

However, those who pay the Micro Entity fee can save a substantial amount of money over the course of their patent filings and prosecution. The savings is especially helpful to small companies and inventors who want to avoid paying full filing fees which can run up to thousands of dollars.