USPTO to implement annual maintenance fee for patent practitionersNovember 17, 2008

In today's Federal Register, the USPTO has indicated its implementation of a final rule to begin collecting annual "maintenance fees" from practitioners registered to practice before the USPTO. The notice states the fees "will recover the estimated average cost to the Office for the roster maintenance process, including the costs of operating the disciplinary system."

The rules are slated to go into effect on December 18, and are based on a 2003 publication of proposed rules regarding practitioner fees. According to the final rule, new 37 C.F.R. § 1.21(a)(4)(i) would set the fee at $118 per year for "active" status. The year described in the rule is the USPTO's fiscal year, which begins on October 1, so practitioners will apparently begin owing these fees in fiscal year 2009, which began on October 1, 2008.

Click here to read the full notice. This may be a way for the USPTO to recover the upcoming reduction in maintenance fee income due to its reduction in the number of patents granted.

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