Micro Entity Provisional Patent Fee Discount

When applying for patent protection, an applicant can register as a large entity, small entity, or micro entity. If you’re an individual or small entity applying for patent protection, micro entity status may be available to you.

What is a micro entity?

in US Patent Law, micro entities are defined as small business concerns, institutions of higher education, or individuals whose gross income does not exceed three times the median household income for the preceding year. This classification was created by the America Invents Act (AIA) of 2011 to promote innovation and to provide a more affordable option for individual inventors and small businesses to protect their inventions through the patent system.

Under a micro entity status, an applicant can benefits from an upto 80% reduction on most fees charged by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) if they qualify and file the appropriate papers in their application or patent. This can save money on filing and prosecuting patent applications.

Image showing an example of a board meeting of members of a micro-entity.
Image Credit: Unsplash

How do I qualify for micro entity status?

To become a micro entity, you must meet certain requirements and pay an associated fee as provided under USPTO Regulation – 37 CFR 1.29. These criteria include:

  1. Qualifying as a Small Entity: This includes individual inventors, small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, and nonprofit organizations. Those eligible to become a small entity must file their applications using either form SB/15A or SB/15B, and include a declaration with their submission that demonstrates they meet the criteria for micro entity status. Additionally, they should check the box titled “Applicant claims small entity status” on the transmittal form. Otherwise, their application will be considered a large entity and they will have to pay full fee rate.
  2. Meeting Income Requirements: To qualify as a micro entity, the applicant must also meet specific income requirements. Specifically, the applicant must have a gross income that is less than three times the median household income for the previous year.
  3. Meeting Ownership Requirements: The applicant must also own fewer than five previous patent applications and not have assigned, licensed, or transferred any ownership rights in the application to a non-micro entity.
  4. Not Being Named as an Inventor on More Than 4 Previously Filed Patent Applications: Additionally, the applicant must not have been named as an inventor on more than four previously filed patent applications.

If your income exceeds the minimum threshold, then you must pay a standard filing fee to file your patent application. Alternatively, you may apply for a provisional patent as well.

Meeting these criteria allows an applicant to qualify for the reduced fees associated with filing a patent application as a micro entity.

What are the advantages of micro entity status?

Filing for micro entity status at the United States Patent and Trademark Office has many advantages. These include:

Reduced Fees

Micro entity status allows an applicant to receive a 75% discount on certain patent fees. This makes it more affordable for small businesses and individual inventors to protect their inventions using the patent system.

Competitive Advantage

By reducing fees, micro-entities can invest their money in other areas of their business and gain a competitive edge in the market.

Access to the Patent System

The micro entity status allows access to the system of patents that was previously too expensive for small inventors or businesses. This enables them to protect their inventions and take their innovations to the market.

Retaining of ownership

By filing under a micro-entity, the applicant retains ownership of their inventions and can potentially earn revenue by licensing or selling patents.

Extended Deadlines

Micro Entities can potentially enjoy the advantage of an extended deadline when it comes to addressing specific patent examination responses. This additional timeframe can prove invaluable, allowing micro entities to meticulously craft well-considered and robust responses, ultimately enhancing their patent application’s chances of success.


The micro entity status is a great advantage for small businesses and inventors who want to save money while protecting their intellectual property. In addition to cutting patent fees, micro entity status can be beneficial when filing R&D tax credits. These credits could significantly boost profits. Furthermore, you may be able to secure new shareholder buy-in or funding that allows your company to expand.

What are the disadvantages of micro entity status?

Micro entities can be an attractive option for certain businesses, but there are some drawbacks that must be taken into consideration. These include:

Potentially Costly

A significant drawback associated with seeking micro entity status revolves around the financial investment required, particularly for individuals lacking expertise in this intricate domain. The application process itself demands a substantial amount of effort, involving meticulous assessments of eligibility criteria and proper documentation. This demand for precision extends further as micro entity status necessitates reevaluation every time a fee is submitted. Consequently, the cumulative effect of these recurring assessments might lead to a scenario where additional fees accumulate over time, ultimately contributing to an augmented overall cost of the patent application. This financial aspect serves as a notable deterrent, causing potential applicants to hesitate when considering the pursuit of micro entity status.

The concern over escalating costs underscores one of the primary reasons behind the hesitancy displayed by many prospective applicants in opting for micro entity status. The prospect of ongoing fees, coupled with the potential complexity of the application process, can deter individuals from pursuing this avenue, especially if they lack the requisite expertise to navigate these intricacies effectively. While the potential cost savings inherent to micro entity status are a compelling incentive, the initial and ongoing financial commitments involved can be discouraging, leading some applicants to opt for alternative paths or forgo micro entity benefits altogether.

Procedural Complexity

Another notable drawback of pursuing micro entity status lies in the intricate web of regulations and requirements that one must navigate. While the option to independently apply for micro entity status is available, the process itself can prove to be a convoluted journey. The intricacies involved, ranging from eligibility assessments to the compilation of necessary documentation, can be time-consuming and overwhelming. As a result, seeking the guidance of a seasoned legal professional well-versed in micro entity law emerges as a prudent approach.

Engaging a knowledgeable attorney specialized in micro entity regulations can greatly alleviate the burden of deciphering complex legal nuances. These legal experts possess an in-depth understanding of the micro entity landscape, ensuring that the application process is executed efficiently and accurately. Their experience enables them to anticipate potential roadblocks, swiftly address challenges, and streamline the entire procedure. By enlisting the assistance of a skilled lawyer, individuals can navigate the regulatory maze with confidence, making certain that their pursuit of micro entity status is both compliant and advantageous.

One-Time Claim and Certification Requirements

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can only claim micro entity status once per application or patent. With each application, whether it be a divisional, continuing, continuation-in-part or reissue application, you must submit a certification of your eligibility for micro entity status. Furthermore, when refiling an existing patent under SS 1.53 as either a continuation, divisional, continuation-in-part application or reissue application, a new certification of your eligibility for micro entity status must be submitted and you must pay all applicable fees to the USPTO each time.

USPTO fees often increase, so be aware of the current rate before submitting your application. It is wise to consult a patent attorney if you are uncertain of your eligibility or would like help preparing and filing your application.

The USPTO’s micro entity provisional patent fee offers an impressive discount, saving applicants money – especially if they’re startups or have less than JPY 300m in capital. However, if your business is larger or you need investment or funding to expand, micro entity status may not be the best option for you. Not only is it difficult to acquire, but having less information about your finances available to potential creditors or investors may make it less attractive.

Minimal Disclosure Requirements

Micro entities can reap the advantages of streamlined disclosure requirements when compiling their statutory accounts, simplifying their financial reporting processes. However, this convenience comes with a potential trade-off that could affect their competitive standing. With minimal disclosure, competitors might gain a clearer view of a micro entity’s financial intricacies, offering insights into revenue streams, cost structures, and investment patterns. This information can be exploited strategically, granting competitors an upper hand in negotiations, partnerships, or market maneuvers.

In contrast, larger entities adhering to more comprehensive disclosure standards might be better shielded from such vulnerabilities. Their detailed financial reports offer a comprehensive view of their operations, but simultaneously restrict competitors from exploiting their financial data as easily. Micro entities should carefully evaluate this aspect of reduced disclosure, weighing the benefits of simplified reporting against the risks of exposing critical financial information to potential rivals. Balancing these factors is essential for maintaining a competitive edge in a dynamic business landscape.

It’s essential to remember that falsely claiming micro entity status can invalidate your patent.

Image showing a person in thought weighing the advantages and disadvantages of micro-entity status.
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Making the decision to file for micro entity status

The decision to file for a micro entity should be based on the advantages it provides. However, this can be challenging to assess as there are various factors that could influence whether or not this option is right for you. In summary, these factors include:


The applicant must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify as a micro entity, including income, ownership, and inventorship criteria. It is important to carefully review these requirements to determine if micro entity status is a viable option.

Cost Savings

Micro entity status can provide a significant cost savings in certain patent fees. An applicant should assess the potential cost savings against the costs associated with obtaining a patent, including legal fees, and determine if the overall cost is still feasible.

Competitive Advantage

With reduced fees, micro entities may have a competitive advantage in the marketplace, which can be a significant factor in deciding to pursue micro entity status.

Business Strategy

An applicant should consider their overall business strategy and determine if obtaining a patent is a necessary step for their business goals. A patent can provide protection for their intellectual property and potentially generate revenue through licensing or selling the patent.

Examination Deadlines

Micro entities may be eligible for extended deadlines for certain patent examination-related responses, which can be beneficial for applicants who need additional time to respond.

Consultation with Patent Professionals

It is always a good idea to consult with a patent attorney or agent to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of micro entity status, and to determine the best course of action for a specific invention or innovation.

Generally speaking, micro entity status is an advantage that small companies can leverage to make filing patent applications much simpler. Not only will you save money on filing fees, but having this status means more funds in your pocket to invest in growing your business.

If you’re uncertain, speaking to an attorney is recommended. They will help maximize your benefits and guarantee that you meet the criteria for micro entity recognition. Doing so will help avoid making a mistake that invalidates your application and help determine whether or not obtaining micro entity status is worth the extra effort and expense.

Image showing consultation with a patent professional.
Image Credit: Unsplash


In conclusion, the concept of Micro Entity Provisional Patent Fee Discount presents a dual-edged proposition, brimming with potential benefits and notable drawbacks. While the allure of reduced fees and streamlined financial burdens is undeniable, it’s vital to recognize that these advantages come hand in hand with certain trade-offs. The convenience of simplified disclosure requirements may be counterbalanced by the risk of exposing sensitive financial information to competitors. Similarly, the appeal of cost savings through micro entity status must be carefully weighed against the complexity of adhering to stringent regulations and the potential for accumulating fees over time. Striking a balance between these advantages and disadvantages necessitates informed decision-making, perhaps guided by legal expertise to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the implications. Ultimately, the pursuit of Micro Entity Provisional Patent Fee Discount requires a thoughtful assessment of individual circumstances, goals, and risk tolerance to determine if this avenue aligns optimally with one’s patenting aspirations.

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