As of October 2, 2020, patent applicants should be prepared to pay increased government fees at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  In a Federal Register Notice dated August 3, 2020, the USPTO indicated that the fee adjustments are needed to provide the USPTO with a sufficient amount of aggregate revenue to recover the cost of patent operations in future years, i.e. inflation, and to allow the USPTO to continue progress in achieving its strategic goals, including the quality of examination, and modernizing internal procedures.  The effective date of the fee increase was pushed back from July to October due to the state of the U.S. economy.

As set forth on the USPTO fee-setting page, the fee adjustments include an approximate 5% increase to most patent fees with greater adjustments to specific fees to enable cost recovery for certain services.  The fee increases are being applied to large, small, and micro-entities.  Larger fee increases are associated with AIA trials and patent maintenance.  For example, inter partes review (IPR) request fees, post-grant review (PGR) or covered business method (CBM) request fees, and post-institution fees are increasing by approximately 25%. 

Practitioners especially should note the new fees for non-DOCX filings and pro hac vice admission.  Non DOCX filing fees will have an associated $400 fee.  While all of the other fee changes will take effect on October 2, the DOCX filing fee will not be implemented until January 2022.
Some notable fee increases for applicants to be aware of include:

  • Issue fees, by 20% 
  • First-maintenance fees, by 25%
  • Late maintenance fees, by 21%
  • Utility patent application filing fees, by 6%
  • Provisional application filing fees, by 7%
  • First month extension of time fees, by 10%

Moving forward, applicants should update their budgets in consideration of the increased patent fees.  Applicants that are able to file new patent applications or pay USPTO fees in pending applications should also consider taking action before October 2, 2020, to avoid the higher fee structure.  Likewise, practitioners should advise clients as appropriate, and review the new fee schedule prior to providing cost estimates.

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