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  • Writer's pictureTiera Fletcher, Esq.

Proposed USPTO Fee Increases: Impact on Patent Applicants and the Future of Innovation


The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently proposed numerous patent fee increases that, if adopted, would take effect in 2025. These increases include notable hikes related to continuing applications, design patents, and post-grant challenges. This blog post will discuss the reasons behind the proposed fee hikes, their potential impact on applicant behavior, and the broader implications for the innovation landscape.


USPTO Director Kathi Vidal cited "higher-than-expected inflation" and the Unleashing American Innovators Act as primary factors for fee increases. The Act, which reduced patent fees for small businesses by up to 80%, is expected to lower barriers to entry for the patent system. However, it also means that the USPTO will collect significantly less fee revenue going forward than baseline estimates.


Proposed Fee Increases


To compensate for the revenue shortfall, the USPTO is proposing a 5% across-the-board fee increase for most patent fees and a 5% increase for filing, search, and examination fees. Additionally, the office has suggested significant increases in specific fees, such as:


  • A 48% overall increase in fees for applying for design patents.

  • Higher fees for filing requests for continued examination (RCE) after an examiner has rejected a patent application, with costs increasing for multiple RCE requests.

  • A 25% increase in fees for America Invents Act trials, including inter partes review and post-grant review.

Potential Impact on Applicant Behavior


The proposed fee increases could significantly alter applicant behavior. For example, the increased fees for continuing applications and terminal disclaimers might discourage applicants from pursuing these options. Additionally, introducing new fees for certain information disclosure statements with large numbers of citations could potentially discourage applicants from submitting relevant information during patent prosecution.


Public Comment and Timeline


Before the fee increases can occur, the USPTO will solicit public comments and feedback from the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC). A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for May 18, and the office plans to publish a final proposal early next year. If the increases are approved, they will take effect in January 2025.


Conclusion


The proposed USPTO fee increases could have significant implications for patent applicants and the future of innovation. While the fee hikes are intended to compensate for revenue shortfalls due to recent legislation, they could discourage applicants from pursuing certain patent strategies and submitting relevant information during prosecution. As stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem, all parties must stay informed about these proposed changes and participate in the public comment process to ensure a balanced and well-considered outcome.


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