The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is considering a new program which will provide applicants the option to defer payment of a considerable portion of the fees due upon filing certain U.S. patent applications for up to 12-months. The program is intended to allow applicants additional time to evaluate the market potential of their invention, before incurring the full costs of pursuing a U.S. patent.
The fee deferral program is proposed for applicants filing non-provisional applications which claim priority to a provisional patent application, within the 12-month provisional period. Applicants electing to take advantage of the deferred fee option would not be entitled to file a Request for Non-Publication with the non-provisional application. Under the proposal, applicants would only be required to pay the basis filing fee, currently $330 (or $165 for small entities), and would be allowed up to 12-months from filing a qualifying non-provisional patent application to pay the search and examination fees, currently $760 (or $380 for a small entity), along with a surcharge and any additional fees which may have been incurred. Of course, until the additional fees have been paid, the application will not be placed into the queue for examination by the PTO.
In addition to deferring fees for applicants,, the PTO believes the program, if implemented, will help decrease the backlog of pending applications, as at least some portion of applicants filing under the proposed program are expected to simply allow their applications to go abandoned.
The PTO is seeking public comment on this proposed program, so let them know what you think!