Monday, February 11, 2013

How Do Co-Inventors Determine Micro-Entity Status?

Dear Rich: The micro-entity fees in the new patent act were supposed to go into effect two years ago but I can't find them at the USPTO? Have they gone into effect? Why not? And when/if they go into effect how do co-inventors qualify? When Congress passed patent reform, one of the crumbs thrown to independent inventors was a discounted fee structure. Instead of 50% off the patent fees for small entity status (a company with under 500 employees), the USPTO was supposed to offer a discount of 75% to inventors who met certain requirements known as micro-entities (see our article comparing small entity and micro-entity status). The micro-entity provision of the law was effective as of September 16, 2011 but (according to the Federal Register) the new fees are not expected to be implemented until March 19, 2013 (about the same time the new first-to-file rules go into effect).
How do you determine micro-entity status for multiple inventors? The rules apply individually to each joint-inventor. So, no joint inventor can have been named as an inventor on more than four applications, and no joint inventor can have a gross income (as defined by the IRS) exceeding three times the median household income for the preceding calendar year (currently $150,162).

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