How can I determine if our company qualifies for small entity or micro entity discounted USPTO government fees?
Companies smaller than 500 employees may qualify for at least small entity status, and some small entities may further qualify for microentity status. The USPTO provides a form to allow a user to certify their entity status, which entitles the entity to discounted government fees when so certified. Generally, small entities are any company with less than 500 employees, and microentities are small entities that meet further, even more stringent requirements, as noted below.
To qualify as a micro entity, an applicant must meet all of the following criteria:
Source: See quote from the USPTO Publication from 2011.
Title 35 of the US Code sets forth the requirements for patentability, including, e.g.,:
Various patent search engines exist allowing keyword searching of claimed elements, including, e.g.,:
There are several parts of a utility patent application
The cost of preparing and filing a NonProvisional Patent Application (NPPA) can vary widely from only the cost of filing a previously prepared application and the US government filing, search and exam fees for a ready to file application, up to the costs of preparing/drafting a full NonProvisional Patent Application (NPPA) including Drawing Figures, Background, Field of the Disclosure, Summary of the Disclosure, Brief Description of Drawings, Detailed Description, Claims, and Abstract. These preparation costs can often cost in the range of $5,000-20,000, depending on the complexity of the invention, and upon how many embodiments are disclosed and claimed. The government filing, search and exam fees, are often in the range of $500-1,500 (depending on the number of employees of the client entity), and can be found here - Link to USPTO Fee Schedule, updated July 1, 2017.
The cost of preparing and filing a Provisional Patent Application (PvPA) can vary widely from only the cost of preparing a coversheet and the US government filing fees for a so-called bare-bones provisional, less than $1,000, and up to the costs of a full NonProvisional Patent Application (NPPA), i.e., $5,000-20,000. The government filing fees depend on the size of the client entity (i.e., number of employees) filing the application, and can be found here - Link to USPTO Fee Schedule, updated July 1, 2017.
Ralph P. Albrecht is a Partner with ATFirm PLLC. Please understand answers provided are of a general nature, cost estimates are merely estimates, and are subject to change without notice, and the information provided is not intended as legal advice, your results may vary. Views expressed are those of the author only, except as otherwise noted. Please see other Disclaimers below.