New Data on the Use of Patents by Universities, Small Firms and Individual Inventors
4. Small Firm patents Of the total number of utility patents (not merely Small Entity ones) granted by the USPTO to US resident inventors in any year, roughly 15 per cent are assigned to US ﬁrms qualifying as Small Entities under the regulations. As with the other two categories, a Small Firm is eligible for a remission of 50 per cent of certain fees.1 The USPTO, along with other Federal agencies, applies the Small Business Size Standards established by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA deﬁnition of a Small Firm varies by industry but, broadly speaking, it depends either on the number of employees or on annual receipts averaged over three years. Where the number of employees is used as the criterion, the most common upper limit is 500, but some industries are allowed a higher limit; in computer manufacturing, for example, the limit is 1,000 employees and in aircraft manufacturing it is 1,500. On the other hand, ﬁrms in the wholesale trade are regarded as Small Firms only if their employee count is less than 100. The ﬁnancial criteria are, predictably, more varied. The lowest limit is in agriculture where average annual receipts must not exceed three quarters of a million dollars, while the commercial banking sector is allowed an upper limit of $150 million in assets. The broad categories and bands are summarised in Table 4.1. Table 4.1 Abbreviated summary of SBA’s Small Business Size Standards Industry Group Manufacturing Wholesale Trade Agriculture Retail...
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