Section 11 of the America Invents Act creates a new class of applicants, micro entities, which are distinct from small entitles and are entitled to receive a 75% discount on all fees on which small entities receive a discount.
An applicant qualifies for micro-entity status if the applicant meets the following requirements. First, the applicant qualifies as a small entity. Second, the applicant has not been named as an inventor on more than four previously filed U.S. non-provisional patent applications. This does not include applications on which the applicant was an inventor but was under an obligation to assign all ownership rights to an employer. Third, the applicant did not have a gross income that exceeded three times the median household income in the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the applicable fee is being paid. Fourth, the applicant has not and is under no obligation to assign, grant, or convey a license or other ownership interest to an entity with a gross income exceeding three times the median household income.
An applicant who is employed by an institution of higher education or who is under an obligation to assign, grant, or convey a license or other ownership interest to an institution of higher education also qualifies for micro-entity status.
Upcoming Events/Key Dates
This provision went into effect on September 16, 2011, but cannot be implemented until the Office establishes fees using its fee setting authority. This provision will likely become effective when the Office completes the second phase of its fee setting plan in February 2013. The USPTO released proposed rules for micro-entity status on May 30, 2012.