The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently extended a pilot program that allows patent applicants to delay the payment of certain fees. This “Missing Parts” pilot program was introduced in 2010 as a way to allow small companies and independent inventors to test the commercial viability of their inventions before incurring certain fees.

The program allows applicants to delay the payment of the examination fee and the search fee for one year. Ordinarily, these fees must be paid when you file a non-provisional patent application. These fees can range from $330 to $1,320.

In order to take advantage of this program, a patent applicant must file a non-provisional patent application within one year of the filing of a provisional application. The non-provisional patent application must include at least one patent claim and a complete written description of the invention. The written description should include an abstract and any drawings that are necessary to depict the invention. The applicant must also pay the basic filing fee, which can range from $240.00 to $70.00.

The program has two notable disadvantages. First, the patent application must be published. An applicant cannot file a non-publication request under the program. Second, the program cannot be used to delay the deadline for filing foreign patent applications. This is not a huge disadvantage, however, since most applicants that will seek to delay the above-described filing fees are not likely to seek to file foreign applications anyway.

Thomas Joseph is a patent attorney in Pittsburgh, PA. You can contact him at