35 U.S.C. 42 Patent and Trademark Office funding
- (d) The Director may refund any fee paid by mistake or any amount paid in excess of that required.
37 CFR 1.26 Refunds.
- (a) The Director may refund any fee paid by mistake or in excess of that required. A change of purpose after the payment of a fee, such as when a party desires to withdraw a patent filing for which the fee was paid, including an application, an appeal, or a request for an oral hearing, will not entitle a party to a refund of such fee. The Office will not refund amounts of twenty-five dollars or less unless a refund is specifically requested, and will not notify the payor of such amounts. If a party paying a fee or requesting a refund does not provide the banking information necessary for making refunds by electronic funds transfer (31 U.S.C. 3332 and 31 CFR part 208), or instruct the Office that refunds are to be credited to a deposit account, the Director may require such information, or use the banking information on the payment instrument to make a refund. Any refund of a fee paid by credit card will be by a credit to the credit card account to which the fee was charged.
- (b) Any request for refund must be filed within two years from the date the fee was paid, except as otherwise provided in this paragraph or in § 1.28(a). If the Office charges a deposit account by an amount other than an amount specifically indicated in an authorization (§ 1.25(b)), any request for refund based upon such charge must be filed within two years from the date of the deposit account statement indicating such charge, and include a copy of that deposit account statement. The time periods set forth in this paragraph are not extendable.
- (c) If the Director decides not to institute a reexamination proceeding in response to a request for reexamination or supplemental examination, fees paid with the request for reexamination or supplemental examination will be refunded or returned in accordance with paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(3) of this section. The reexamination requester or the patent owner who requested a supplemental examination proceeding, as appropriate, should indicate the form in which any refund should be made (e.g., by check, electronic funds transfer, credit to a deposit account). Generally, refunds will be issued in the form that the original payment was provided.
- (1) For an ex parte reexamination request, the ex parte reexamination filing fee paid by the reexamination requester, less the fee set forth in § 1.20(c)(7), will be refunded to the requester if the Director decides not to institute an ex parte reexamination proceeding.
- (2) For an inter partes reexamination request, a refund of $7,970 will be made to the reexamination requester if the Director decides not to institute an inter partes reexamination proceeding.
- (3) For a supplemental examination request, the fee for reexamination ordered as a result of supplemental examination, as set forth in § 1.20(k)(2), will be returned to the patent owner who requested the supplemental examination proceeding if the Director decides not to institute a reexamination proceeding.
Under 35 U.S.C. 42(d) and 37 CFR 1.26, the Office may refund: (1) a fee paid by mistake (e.g., fee paid when no fee is required); or (2) any fee paid in excess of the amount of fee that is required. See Ex parte Grady, 59 USPQ 276, 277 (Comm’r Pat. 1943) (the statutory authorization for the refund of fees under the “by mistake” clause is applicable only to a mistake relating to the fee payment).
When an applicant or patentee takes an action “by mistake” (e.g., files an application or maintains a patent in force “by mistake”), the submission of fees required to take that action (e.g., a filing fee submitted with such application or a maintenance fee submitted for such patent) is not a “fee paid by mistake” within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. 42(d).
37 CFR 1.26(a) also provides that a change of purpose after the payment of a fee, as when a party desires to withdraw the filing of a patent application for which the fee was paid, will not entitle the party to a refund of such fee.
All questions pertaining to the return of fees are referred to the Refunds Section of the Receipts Division of the Office of Finance. No opinions should be expressed to attorneys or applicants as to whether or not fees are returnable in particular cases. Such questions may also be treated, to the extent appropriate, in decisions on petition decided by various U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officials.
I. MANNER OF MAKING A REFUND
Effective November 7, 2000, 37 CFR 1.26(a) was amended to authorize the Office to obtain the banking information necessary for making refunds by electronic funds transfer, or obtain the deposit account information to make the refund to the deposit account. If a party paying a fee or requesting a refund does not instruct the refund to be credited to a deposit account, the Office will attempt to make the refund by electronic fund transfer. The Office may (1) use the banking information on a payment instrument (e.g., a personal check) to refund an amount paid by the payment instrument in excess of that required, or (2) in other situations, require the banking information necessary for electronic funds transfer or require instructions to credit a deposit account. If it is not cost effective to require the banking information, the Office may obtain the deposit account information or simply issue any refund by treasury check.
37 CFR 1.26(a) further provides that any refund of a fee paid by credit card will be by a credit to the credit card account to which the fee was charged. The Office will not refund a fee paid by credit card by treasury check, electronic funds transfer, or credit to a deposit account.
II. TIME PERIOD FOR REQUESTING A REFUND
Any request for a refund which is not based upon subsequent entitlement to small entity status (see 37 CFR 1.28(a)) must be filed within the two-year nonextendable time limit set forth in 37 CFR 1.26(b).
III. FEES PAID BY DEPOSIT ACCOUNT
The Office treats authorizations to charge a deposit account as being received by the Office on the date of receipt as defined in 37 CFR 1.6 for purposes of refund payments under 37 CFR 1.26 and 37 CFR 1.28. Payment by authorization to charge a deposit account is treated for refund purposes the same as payments by other means (e.g., check or credit card charge authorization). Accordingly, the time period for requesting a refund of any fee paid by a deposit account begins on the date the charge authorization is received in the Office. For refund purposes: where a 37 CFR 1.8 certificate is used, the refund period will begin on the date of actual receipt (not the 37 CFR 1.8 date of mailing); where Priority Mail Express® under 37 CFR 1.10 is used, the “date accepted” on the Priority Mail Express® label will control (not the actual date of receipt by the Office). The use of payment receipt date for refund purposes has no effect on the certificate of mailing practice under 37 CFR 1.8 for making a timely reply to an Office action.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the Office charges a deposit account by an amount other than an amount specifically indicated on the charge authorization, any request for refund based upon such charge must be filed within two years from the date of the deposit account statement indicating such charge, and must include a copy of that deposit account statement. This provision of 37 CFR 1.26(b) applies, for example, in the following types of situations: (1) a deposit account charged for an extension of time pursuant to 37 CFR 1.136(a)(3) as a result of there being a prior general authorization in the application; or (2) a deposit account charged for the outstanding balance of a fee as a result of an insufficient fee submitted with an authorization to charge the deposit account for any additional fees that are due. In these situations, the party providing the charge authorization is not in a position to know the exact amount by which the deposit account will be charged until the date of the deposit account statement indicating the amount of the charge. Therefore, the two-year time period set forth in 37 CFR 1.26(b) does not begin until the date of the deposit account statement indicating the amount of the charge.
IV. LATER ESTABLISHMENT OF SMALL ENTITY STATUS
Effective November 7, 2000, 37 CFR 1.28(a) was amended to provide a three-month period (instead of the former two-month period) for requesting a refund based on later establishment of small entity status. As the Office now treats the receipt date of a deposit account charge authorization as the fee payment date (for refund purposes), any request for a refund under 37 CFR 1.28(a) must be made within three months from the date the charge authorization is received in the Office.
V. REFUND OF SEARCH FEE AND EXCESS CLAIMS FEE
The Office may refund the search fee and any excess claims fee paid in an application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) if applicant files a petition under 37 CFR 1.138(d) to expressly abandon the application before an examination has been made of the application. See MPEP § 711.01.
The basic filing fee, non-electronic filing fee, the examination fee, and the application size fee cannot be refunded unless the fee was paid by mistake or in excess of that required.