The USPTO has commenced a fee-setting process for fee adjustments it expects to implement in January 2021. While many fee changes are modest (~5%), the USPTO proposes significant increases to patent trial fees and two new USPTO fees that will impact all applicants and practitioners.

USPTO Fee-Setting Process

Under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) the USPTO fee-setting process is a multi-step process that requires input from the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC), a public hearing, and a public notice and comment period. That explains why the USPTO does not expect to implement the proposed fee adjustments until the January 2021 time frame.

Proposed Fee Adjustments

Detailed information on the proposed fee adjustments are available on the USPTO’s Fee-Setting web page. The information below is taken from the PPAC Detailed Appendix.

Higher Patent Trial Fees

The petition fees for patent trials would increase by about 25%.

Higher 3.5 Surcharge For Late Maintenance Fees

The surcharge for late maintenance fees would increase by 525%.

New Surcharge To Encourage DOCX Application Format

The USPTO would impose a new $400 surcharge for not filing a utility application in DOCX format.

This fee raises a number of concerns, including concerns about the integrity of DOCX files when used for such an important legal document as a patent application and the justification for penalizing applicants who may not have access to the software required to prepare a patent application in DOCX format.

New Annual Practitioner Fee

Another new USPTO fee category is an annual fee for registered practitioners.

Provide Your Feedback

As set forth in this August 1, 2018 Federal Register Notice, PPAC will hold a public hearing on the proposed fee adjustments on September 6, 2018, at the USPTO’s Alexandria, Virginia campus. (Public comments also may be submitted to fee.setting@uspto.gov.) While there will be other opportunities to submit public comments, providing comments early in the process will help the USPTO understand the ramifications of these proposed fee adjustments.