USPTO Annual Fee for Patent Practitioners

PatentLawPic743Hal Wegner and Harry Moatz have provided me with additional information on the $118 annual patent practitioner registration fee for FY2009.

The Office has not issued a notice to pay the annual practitioner maintenance fee for FY2009. The Office has not required payment of the fee by September 30, 2009. No decision has been made to collect the fee in or for FY2009.

Information regarding fees will be “published and sent to practitioners in advance of the due date.” Since FY2009 ends in less than 80 days (September 30, 2009), it is unlikely that any fees will be due by that date. However, the office has not publicly ruled-out the possibility of a retroactive charge.

Background:

26 thoughts on “USPTO Annual Fee for Patent Practitioners

  1. I aagree that the proposed fee is a thieving tax, pure and simple, much like the $250/year “license” D.C. formerly required for all attorneys admitted to that jurisdiction, even if not practicing anywhere near D.C. As to Federal agencies, the IRS has “enrolled agents,” and criteria for becoming enrolled.

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  2. nice ping-pong match:

    Office clarifies with statement saying only the obvious, and reads like a dying company’s proclamation that there has been no decision about layoffs (the list of those to be canned being fully vetted).

    Hint at Office not making the fee decision until Kappos is in place (thanks, yourdreamparalegal).

    Kappos confirmation prioritized to before the August congressional break.

    So, …just how much time is required for “prior notice”? How many millions in practitioner fees are sitting on the table? How many people really think that you won’t be writing a check to the USPTO before September 30?

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  3. “The SSA definitely does and I believe the VA does too (for non attorney professionals).”

    I believe both of those agencies allow virtually anyone to represent another person, and only require a power-of-attorney from the person. The SSA says that it can bar individuals from appearing before them, for misconduct, but doesn’t appear to otherwise restrict who can practice before it.

    Neither agency requires testing and registration of professionals like the PTO. And I dare say that representing others before the SSA or VA isn’t nearly as lucrative as preparing and prosecuting patent applications.

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  4. “Do any of those other agencies maintain their own lists of professionals”

    The SSA definitely does and I believe the VA does too (for non attorney professionals).

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  5. “Do you have to pay an annual fee to represent clients before the social security administration, the ITC, the VA? How is the PTO different from other federal agencies?”

    Is that a serious question? Do any of those other agencies maintain their own lists of professionals who are legally authorized to practice before them? Do any of those other agencies help drive up the incomes of those practicing before them by limiting those who are allowed to practice before them to a small subset of licensed attorneys?

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  6. “I have to pay a registration fee in every other jurisdiction where I am registered to practice”

    Do you have to pay an annual fee to represent clients before the social security administration, the ITC, the VA? How is the PTO different from other federal agencies?

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  7. OED informed me this week that the notice will not be sent (and therefore fees will not be due) until a new director is confirmed.

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  8. How has OED been paid for up until now? Why is that source suddenly insufficient? This fee is to pay for charging practitioners with the offense of filing to long a 1449.

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  9. If I remember correctly, this was supposed to go into paying for OED.

    But, as everyone knows, once the money gets into the pot it’s never used as it was intended. Remember the “Social Security Lock Box”?

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  10. and of course once it gets installed it will be increased annually. just like the constant increase on filing fees — continuations– extensions– i guess with this administration we need to get used to alot of added taxes — 3 percent for this– 5 percent for that–taxes on hard work– sacrifice — sheer tenacity– it took some of those things to get through school–to build a practice– to maintain it– why not tax all those qualities???? — what an idea !! — thats what we voted for isnt it???????

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  11. It’s not the give, it’s the get – what do we get for the $200? So, where does all the money go? If it goes to anything supportive of the profession or the examining corps, then maybe it’s Ok. If it’s just goes to the slush fund, then it’s not.

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  12. “I have to pay a registration fee in every other jurisdiction where I am registered to practice. It seems reasonable for the patent bar to require a fee as well. It does seem odd however, that State bars are independent and the OED is part of the very organization that I am practicing before. Would a portion of my fees be used to pay to fight for the implementation of the “new rules” on continuations and claim limits? If so, it seems I should have a say in what the office is advocating”

    51 wrongs, don’t make a right. The PTO got along without this fee for 200 years or so, why does it need it now? It’s thievery. pure and simple.

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  13. News flash: to most people, making $100k or $200k would both be considered highly lucrative.

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  14. I have to pay a registration fee in every other jurisdiction where I am registered to practice. It seems reasonable for the patent bar to require a fee as well. It does seem odd however, that State bars are independent and the OED is part of the very organization that I am practicing before. Would a portion of my fees be used to pay to fight for the implementation of the “new rules” on continuations and claim limits? If so, it seems I should have a say in what the office is advocating.

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  15. “Less than 200 dollars a year to be able to practice this highly lucrative field? A bargain.”

    I am a patent attorney for a federal agency and believe me when I tell you that being a federal employee is not “highly lucrative.” And, Yes, I did practice for five years at various patent law firms prior to entering federal service. I didn’t like private law firms because I prefer working a 40 hour a week job making $100,000 to working an 80 hour a week job making $200,000.

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  16. “Alan probably complained when the teacher forgot to assign homework too.”

    Are you kidding me???

    I was trying to find out if and when I needed to pay this fee to KEEP MY LICENSE!

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  17. “As for trust accounts, there is no earthly point in them for patent prosecution. . . . Generally, we only take fees in advance from solo inventors anyway.”

    Do solo inventors not qualify as clients?

    Alun, your ignorance on this matter is truly astounding — you better stay away from all matters involving client funds or else you, and those supervising you, will end up before a disciplinary committee with your heads in your hands.

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  18. Just a question I have never researched: Does the enabling legislation in Title 35 even authorize this “tax” (?)…and lest there be any doubt, it is a “tax”.

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  19. The fee is in line with state bar fees. However, as I pointed out in my submission, we are divided into patent attorneys who already pay the latter, so it’s onerous for them to have to pay the PTO as well, and OTOH those of us who are patent agents, who make less than attorney rates of compensation. Even the best paid of us are pegged just a notch below the pay of the lowliest first year associate, and many others make far less than that, in fact down to about half that in some cases. Ergo, in fairness a PTO bar fee, if any, ought to be lower than state bar fees.

    Let’s hope that if they do make us do CLE, then they provide their own free CLE programme, like in their original proposal. Otherwise that could be far more costly than a bar fee.

    As for trust accounts, there is no earthly point in them for patent prosecution. We never handle anything that could be described as client monies, except for unearnt fees, and the latter can be burnt through in the twinkling of an eye. Generally, we only take fees in advance from solo inventors anyway. The usual point of a trust account is, surely, to receive the proceeds after winning in court, for the attorney to take out his percentage and then pass the rest over to the client. In prosecution no-one ever collects any damages from a third party. Yes, that’s an obvious truism, but WTH else is a trust A/C for?

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  20. This is what happens when you have an agency where a culture was recently instilled to do whatever it takes to try to show something – forget any substance. Like the “Hall of Inventors,” the “Peer to Patent” program, “Kids Day,” “The New Rules” and that kind of garbage.

    “All show and no go” as we used to say about those, who, desperate for attention and approval, would hang spoilers and fancy rims on their cheap cars, having zero effect on the actual performance and looking, well, silly.

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  21. Alan probably complained when the teacher forgot to assign homework too.

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  22. Part of the justification for this fee was the alleged insignificance of the fee compared the the annual salary of even the lowest paid agent.

    I would just like to say that I don’t find it insignificant.

    Moreover, it represents even a smaller percentage of the PTO budget and of the overall U.S. Gov’t budget than it is of that agents salary, so on that basis, its not worth collecting .

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  23. Seems perfectly reasonable to me. Less than 200 dollars a year to be able to practice this highly lucrative field? A bargain.

    I mean come on, none of you guys have an issue with the city you live in charging 25$ just to do you the disservice of keeping your registration in a database somewhere.

    The government in this country is out of control people. The more fees they levy on this and that the faster people might actually catch on to this nonsense.

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  24. First “fees”

    Second “mandatory CLE”

    Third “mandatory pro bono”

    Fourth “client trust accounts” (for those not already obligated under state bar rules”

    Fifth “the realization that others practicing before other federal agencies are not so burdened…made all the more unpalatable given the total absence of fees on the trademark side of the USPTO”

    Sixth “(fill in the blank)”

    Proper decorum prevents me from stating how I view this issue, but “go forth and multiply” seems like a reasonable alternative.

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  25. You would think the PTO would be all over this, given the budget crisis.
    My guess, is they don’t have the necessary resources to collect just yet, similar to how they unveiled updating your OED info online many moons before it was actually ready.

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  26. I actually called the Office of Enrollment about this a couple of weeks ago and left a message.

    They never returned my call.

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