Hi, Veronica. In United States patent law, those applying for a patent, i.e. applicants, and patentees may claim a particular status depending on the number of their employees. The fees to be paid to the patent office depend on the applicant’s status. The statuses include the “large entity” status and the “small entity” status. The “micro entity” status is a further status, which was introduced with the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), enacted in 2011. They have made a category further to encourage and facilitate independent investors i.e. micro entities by offering them reductions. To qualify as a micro entity, an applicant must meet all of the following criteria:
• Qualify as a USPTO-defined small entity.
• Not be named on more than four previously filed applications.*
• Not have a gross income more than three times the median household income in the previous year from when the fee(s) is paid. For 2011, the most recent year that data is available, the median income was $50,054.
• Not be under an obligation to assign, grant, or convey a license or other ownership to another entity that does not meet the same income requirements as the inventor.
On the other hand, small entities get 50% discounts and are defined as
A small entity is an entity that:
• (i) is a nonprofit organization; OR (ii) does not, together with all affiliates, have 500 or more employees;
• has not assigned, licensed or otherwise conveyed an interest in the invention to a non-small entity
Large entity: any entity that is neither a small entity nor a micro entity. I believe that there will be no confusion now.