Predictably, the USPTO has proposed increasing fees for about every piece of “paper” they receive/require. While most of the increases are in the 5-10% range for routine prep/pros matter, some of the increases are much larger. These often seem strategic, in the sense that they are intended to alter behavior by the patent bar or, at least to cover unanticipated expenses due to post-examination proceedings and greater use of the low-fee microentity category.
For example, the fee for an IPR request encompassing up to 15 claims and one encompassing more than 20 claims will each increase by about 25%. Late payment of PCT filing documents, such as the search and examination fee or the oath and declaration will increase by 14%.
On the “be thankful you got a patent” side, issue fees for both utility and reissue applications will increase by 20%. Paying the three patent maintenance fees on time will go up 25% each, while paying them in the 6 month grace period will go up 213% each.
Of note is a patent practitioner fee of $240 if the practitioner meets a CLE requirement and $340 if the practitioner does not complete the CLE requirement. It is not clear what sort of course attendance will meet the CLE requirement, but if a lot of practitioners opt to meet the CLE requirement, an administrative briar patch could be waiting for the Office that may well eradicate any financial benefits.
The increases may have been amplified by the section of the STRONGER bill recently introduced into the Senate that more fully defines “microentities,” and allows the PTO to keep and deploy its “profits.” In any case, fee increases are as predictable as dangerous air quality alerts in DC in August.