I'm looking into filing a provisional application for a patent, and I'm trying to determine whether or not I'm classified as a micro entity. This website says that one requirement of qualifying as a micro entity is:

The majority of the patent filer’s employment income is from an Institution of Higher Learning, or the applicant has assigned, or is obliged to assign the patent to an Institution of Higher Learning. An Institution of Higher Learning is a public or nonprofit accredited institution that admits post-secondary students for programs of not less than two years.

However, when I looked at the Certification of Micro Entity Status (Gross Income Basis) form, I didn't find any mention of an institution of higher education.

Which source is correct, and can anyone provide me a with a comprehensive list of qualifications I must meet to be classified as a micro entity?

  • Hi @fi12 my be this could throw some light on difference between micro and large entity whda.com/whda/assets/file/…
    – RishiM
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 6:23
  • @RishiM_IPR Thanks for the link. I tried to summarize its contents in my answer.
    – Eric S
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 15:10

1 Answer 1


Let me preface this by saying I am not a lawyer. Looking at this link to the requirements for small and micro-entity status shows two ways to qualify for micro-entity status.

Micro entity: There are two ways to qualify as a micro-entity.

The first way is under paragraph (a) of the new rule, requiring the following conditions that must be satisfied individually for each applicant, inventor, and joint inventor who:

  • has not been named as an inventor on more than 4 prior patent applications (provisional applications, patent applications filed in a foreign country, PCT international applications for which the basic US national fee was not paid, and applications that a party has assigned or is under an obligation to assign as a result of previous employment do not count);
  • has gross income less than 3 times the median household income in the U.S. for the preceding calendar year (for 2013 fees = $150,162, or 3X$50,054, the 2012 median household income. For parties not paid in US dollars, the average currency exchange rate during the previous calendar year applies.);

  • has not assigned, licensed or otherwise granted an interest in the invention to an entity who has gross income more than the amount listed above (unless the entity relates to an institution of higher education); and

  • also meets the requirement for small entity status.

The second way, under paragraph (d) of the new rule, is by having a relationship with a U.S. institution of higher education. The applicant’s employer, from which the applicant obtains the majority of the applicant’s income, must be an institution of higher education. Or, the application must be assigned, granted, conveyed, or is under and obligation of contract or law to assign, grant, or convey, a license ownership interest in the particular application to the institution of higher education.

Thus, I believe the linked form is just covering the gross income requirement of the first option for qualification. The linked website doesn't make clear that the there are two options. You need only qualify for one option or the other. Since I am not a lawyer, I would suggest reading the requirements carefully and if you feel you need additional clarification perhaps seek the advice of a qualified attorney.

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