Part of the implementation of the new Patent Reform Act of 2011 is a 15% surcharge on fees charged by the US Patent and Trademark Office, starting on September 26, 2011. For cost conscious filers, the increase is significant. For example, the fees for electronically filing a regular patent application by a small entity, (including the basic, search, and examination fees) will be raised from $462 to $530; the issue fees will be raised from $755 to $870; and fees for a Request for Continued Prosecution (RCE) will be raised from $405 to $465. Even fees for filing a provisional patent application by a small entity will be raised from $110 to $125, and an additional $50 processing fee will be incurred, raising to total cost to $175. (Go here to see the full USPTO fee schedule.
Commentary by author: let’s hope that this increase in fees means that the USPTO will have the resources to improve their services and decrease the backlog of applications. However, for many years, Congress has been diverting the fees the USPTO collects to fund other budgetary items, a process called “fee diversion”. Although the newly enacted Patent Reform Act does not include an end to fee diversion, Director Kappos has apparently been assured that patent office will be allowed to spend the fees it collects. Let’s hope this is true. Otherwise, the fee diversion and fee increases will be a poorly disguised tax on innovation.