The US Patent and Trademark Office recently published its proposed rules for implementing the micro entity provision of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). If an applicant qualifies as a “micro entity”, then the applicant can pay the reduced patent fees. The AIA sets the micro entity discount at 75% for many of the fees, including fees for the filing, searching, examining, issuing, appealing, and maintaining patent applications and patents. The micro entity fee provides qualifying applicants an even deeper discount than the 50% already available for a small entity.

An inventor/applicant may be a “micro entity” if: (1) she qualifies as a small entity; has not been named as an inventor on more than 4 previously filed US non-provisional patent applications (not including inventions assigned based upon prior employment); (3) does not have an income of more than 3x the median US household income ($50k for 2009); and (4)has not conveyed or contractually promised to convey rights or to an entity that has an income of more than 3x the median US household income.

Highlights of the proposed rules include:

*Applicant(s) claim micro entity status by filing a certifciation of entitlement to micro entity status;

*If an applicantion names more than one applicant, each applicant must meet the requirements for the applicants to file a micro entity certification in the application;

*Any attempt to fraudulently or improperly establish status as a micro entity, or pay fees as a micro entity, shall be considered as a fraud practiced or attempted on the Office.

“View the proposed rules(Micro entity proposed rules)”:http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-30/pdf/2012-12971.pdf