Patent applications are subject to a patent fee or filing fee, as well as, other patent office fees including search fees, examination fees, and issuance fees. These fees are due at the time of filing the patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patent fees vary depending on several variables, the number of claims or dependent claims filed, extensions or reuse of a patent, and various other determining factors of the patent. All these fees also have an adjustment for small entities, such as independent inventors, small businesses, or nonprofit organizations, under which the classification of, “Small Entity Fee”, can reduce the fees applicable in every category of patent fees. Supplementary fees will apply if the patent has more than three independent claims, more than 20 total claims, or if the total number of pieces of paper in a claim exceeds 100 sheets.
If small entity status applies to an application for patent, the applicant should file a written declaration of small entity status along with the small entity patent fee. The written declaration can be a simple statement on a payment letter. The applicant should be aware of the stipulations for making a small entity claim on their application, and that they meet the criteria for such a claim before filing.
The most important factor in calculating patent fees is whether the claim includes a single preceding claim. That single preceding claim may be an independent or dependent claim. A multiple dependent claim or any claim depending from another claim will be considered as a separate dependent claim or claims. Patent law allows for the payment of other fees upon the filing of additional claims to an original application after the application has been filed. If an amendment to a patent is filed that presents additional claims that exceed the total number of claims already paid for an additional fee will apply. Additional independent claims that exceed the number previously submitted will have to be submitted separately along with any additional fees due. Most fees change in October of each year. An application that contains specific reference to a prior application may be subject to maintenance fees. Maintenance fees are due at three and a half years, seven and a half years, and at eleven and a half years after the original grant of patent. Timely payment of maintenance fees when they are due will keep the patent enforced. Normally, the term of the patent is for 20 years from the earliest date of filing for that patent.
Fees that an applicant may be responsible for include:
Application Filing Fees
Miscellaneous Patent Fees
Post Issuance Fees
Extension of Time Fees