Do you Qualify as a Micro Entity?
The patent office has created a new entity with lower filing and other fees than the previous small entity or large entity. If an inventor can qualify as a micro entity, filing fees, issue fees, and all fees are quite a bit less than if he files as a small entity. To qualify as a Micro Entity, the filer must be a Small Entity (fewer than 500 employees) and must meet the following criteria:
(1) The applicant has not been named as the inventor on a total of more than four utility patents (regular utility patents, not provisional patent applications), design patents or plant patents. This also does not include certain international PCT applications and applications owned by a previous employer. In addition, the applicant had to have had a gross income in the previous year of less than three times the median household income reported by the Bureau of the Census (The median household income has been hovering around $50,000 for the past two years, so we are figuring $153,000 is the cutoff point at present.) In the event that the patent application has been assigned, the assignee had to have a gross (not net) income of less than three times the U.S. median household income. If the inventor is married, and filing jointly they make more than $153,000, the test is if they had filed separately would the inventor have less or more than $153,000; or
(2) the majority of the patent filer’s employment income is from a US Institution of Higher Learning, or the applicant has assigned, or is obliged to assign the patent to a US Institution of Higher Learning. An Institution of Higher Learning is a public or non-profit accredited institution that admits post-secondary students for programs of not less than 2 years.
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 (As of 2012, $150,162).