As of March 19, 2013 the USPTO has fully implemented the Micro Entity discount created by the America Invents Act. Qualifying applicants are entitled to a 75% discount on most US Patent and Trademark Office fees, which is substantial especially in view of recent across-the-board increases. Applicants must meet the following requirements in order to qualify for the discount.
- Applicant qualifies as a small entity, which for most for-profit companies means that you have fewer than 500 employees.
- Applicant or any inventor has been named in four or fewer US non-provisional patent applications.
- Applicant or each inventor had an income of no more than $150,000 in the previous calendar year. This number is subject to change because the statute defines that amount as three times the median household income according to US Census Bureau statistics. Currently, that works out to $150,000.
- Applicant has not transferred an ownership interest to any non-qualifying entity, and is under no obligation to do so.
Given the income limitations, micro entity status is principally for the benefit of individual inventors and pre-revenue startups.
Unlike small entity status, which can be obtained simply by claiming it on an Application Data Sheet, micro entity status requires certifying that the applicant meets each of the foregoing requirements. The Office has provided form SB/15A for this purpose, and either the inventor(s) or his/her attorney may sign.
The micro entity was created by 35 U.S.C. §123 on September 13, 2011 when the President signed the America Invents Act into law. The implementing regulations were published on December 19, 2012 and can be found in 77 Fed. Reg. 75019. Final preparations for implementing the law were completed in March 2013, and the discount became available on March 19, 2013.