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The size of the applicant will determine the USPTO fees associated with a patent application and maintenance fees.
Generally, a large entity pays full price; a small entity pays half of a large entity fee; and a micro entity pays half of a small entity fee.
Elements of the definitions change and the fees change – so changes should be checked before action is taken.
Definition of Entity Size
Large entity is: an applicant which does not fit the definition of a small entity or micro entity.
Small entity is: (a) an individual; (b) small business with less than 500 employees; or (c) a nonprofit organization including a university or other institution of higher education located in any country. (37 CFR 1.27; 13 CFR 121.802)
Micro entity is:
Based on Income
(A) (1) qualifies as a small entity; (2) has not been named as an inventor on more than 4 previously filed patent applications, other than applications filed in another country, provisional applications, or international applications; (3) did not, in the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the applicable fee is being paid, have a gross income, exceeding $202,563; and (4) has not assigned the application to an entity that, in the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the applicable fee is being paid, had a gross income, exceeding $202,563. (This income number changes, double a possible change at USPTO Explanation of Micro Entity Status); or
Based on "Institution of Higher Education"
(B) (1) qualifies as a small entity; and (i) is employed by a non-profit "institution of higher education"; or (ii) will assign the patent rights to a non-profit "institution of higher education" (MPEP 509.04)
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