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Intellectual Property: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Proposes Huge Increase In Fees

by Glenn Hess
February 20, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 8

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) is proposing substantial increases in many of the fees it charges for its services, including a nearly 50% increase in patent application fees.

Congress passed patent reform legislation (H.R. 1249) last year that gives PTO authority for the first time to set its own fees and keep all of the revenue collected from patent and trademark applicants.

The proposed fee schedule “is far from final,” PTO Director David J. Kappos says. The patent office will work with intellectual property (IP) stakeholders in the coming months to “set these fees at the optimal levels,” he remarks.

The basic patent filing fees would increase by 47%. For example, the total price for filing, search, and examination for a large-entity filer would rise from $1,250 to $1,840. PTO says the increase would more closely align fee revenue with the cost of services.

PTO has interpreted its fee-setting authority as giving it leeway to adjust individual fees to encourage or discourage certain behaviors of applicants, says Courtenay C. Brinckerhoff, a partner in the IP law firm Foley & Lardner.

For example, she notes, PTO proposes to charge much higher fees for excess claims and excess application pages to encourage applicants to “file compact and carefully devised applications.”

“Stakeholders should carefully consider the stated rationales and ensure that the proposed fee structure won’t overburden applicants or penalize legitimate patent strategies,” says Brinckerhoff, who is vice chair of her firm’s chemical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical practice.


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