A Micro Entity Patent, also known as form PTO/SB/15A, must be completed by patent applicants. This type of patent is given to an individual or company that has micro entity status. You will need to determine for yourself whether the Micro Entity Patent application is the most appropriate application for your client for their invention and/or patent.

What Is a Micro Entity?

A patent applicant who applies as a micro entity, as clearly described in 35 U.S.C. § 123, is one who qualifies under the definition of “small entity.” In addition to meeting the qualification criteria, they must also meet the following two definitions:

  • Is not named on more than 4 U.S. non-provisional applications that have been previously filed.
  • Does not have a gross income that exceeds the U.S. median household income for the prior year in which the required fees are paid.

Micro Entity Status

In order to receive a 75 percent discount, the patent applicant claiming to possess the Micro Entity Status needs to file a Certification of Micro Entity Status, form PTO/SB/15A.

Without the “micro entity” or “small entity” status met, the patent applicant will be deemed a “large entity” and will then be required to pay the standard 100 percent fee. Possession of the micro entity status provides the applicant with a large discount on patent applications for government fees.

How to Apply for Micro Entity Status

To obtain micro entity status, the applicant must do the following:

  • Submit a signed copy of the USPTO form SBB 50, available for download on the USPTO forum page.
  • Complete form 35 U.S.C 123, which requires certification for the applicant to be thought of as a micro entity.
  • File for the certification in writing before or at the time the first payment toward the micro entity application or patent is applied for.
  • Your status in one application or patent as a micro entity will not affect any other status on applications or patents.

Micro Entity Status Definitions

To apply as a Micro Entity based on gross income:

  • Each inventor must complete and then file USPTO Form PTO/SB/15A, the Certification of Micro Entity Status – Gross Income Basis.

To apply based on employment of the inventor with an institution of higher learning:

  • Each inventor completes and then file USPTO Form PTO/SB/15B, the Certification of Micro Entity Status – Institution of Higher Education Basis.

Understanding the Leahy-smith America Invents Act (AIA)

On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”). This happened after the act garnered significant bi-partisan support and passed both the House 304-117 and the Senate 89-9.

The AIA or The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act is the first significant change to the patent system in nearly 60 years. With the creation of the AIA, the USPTO now has a three-tier pricing structure for most patent fees.

Before the AIA, the USPTO did provide a 50 percent cost reduction in fees (including filing, issuing, appealing, maintenance fees, etc.) to those small entity applicants. Remember, as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA), these are individuals or corporations with fewer than 500 employees including affiliates. Today with the AIA, the USPTO can now offer “micro entity” applicants fee reductions of 75 percent.

Savings on Micro Entity Fees

There are advantages to paying the fees associated with a client's micro entity application that result in excellent cost savings.

The list of fees, which can be reduced by 75 percent for micro entities, may include:

  • Filing fees, both provisional and non-provisional
  • Search fees
  • Examination fees
  • Issue fees
  • Appeal fees for
    • Utility, design, plant, and even to reissue patent applications
  • Maintenance fees
    • This includes the fee grace period surcharges for the maintenance fees
    • Surcharges for a petition
      • Should the need arise to reinstate an expired patent and the client needs to submit a delayed payment, a petition may be submitted.

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