The USPTO has announced final rules to implement an annual practitioner maintenance fee. According to the new rules effective December 17, 2008, a practitioner who fails "to pay the annual practitioner maintenance fee required under § 11.8(d) [will] be administratively suspended." Easy to remember, the Fee under Section 11.8 is $118.
Patently-O also writes:
The Office estimates that, in 2006, the average annual income in the United States of solo practitioners was $231,777; of patent attorneys who are partners in private firms, $434,464; of patent attorneys who are associates in private firms, $152,677; and of corporate IP attorneys, $198,109; and the average annual salary of patent agents in a firm in the United States was $92,761. AIPLA Report of the Economic Survey 2007.
-->The current 11.8-->
§ 11.8 Oath and registration fee.
(a) After an individual passes the examination, or the examination is waived, the OED Director shall promptly publish a solicitation for information concerning the individual's good moral character and reputation. The solicitation shall include the individual's name, and business or communication postal address.
(b) An individual shall not be registered as an attorney under § 11.6(a), registered as an agent under § 11.6(b) or (c), or granted limited recognition under § 11.9(b) unless within two years of the mailing date of a notice of passing registration examination or of waiver of the examination the individual files with the OED Director a completed Data Sheet, an oath or declaration prescribed by the USPTO Director, and the registration fee set forth in § 1.21(a)(2) of this subchapter. An individual seeking registration as an attorney under § 11.6(a) must provide a certificate of good standing of the bar of the highest court of a State that is no more than six months old.
(c) An individual who does not comply with the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section within the two-year period will be required to retake the registration examination.
[Added, 69 FR 35427, June 24, 2004, effective July 26, 2004]
-->As commenters noted, this rule change does NOT seem to be highlighted on the USPTO website.
The Rules change was published in the Federal Register on 17 Nov. 2008
[[Federal Register: November 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 222)]
[Rules and Regulations]
The summary states:
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) is
adopting new rules governing the conduct of individuals registered to
practice before the Office. The Office is adopting a new rule that
provides for an annual practitioner maintenance fee for those
recognized to practice before the Office in patent cases. These changes
will enable the Office to maintain a roster of registered practitioners
and, consequently, better protect the public from unqualified
practitioners. The Office is also making conforming amendments to 37
DATES: Effective Date: December 17, 2008.
Also of note:
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Harry I. Moatz , Director of
Enrollment and Discipline (OED Director), directly by phone at (571)
272-6069; by facsimile to (571) 273-6069 marked to the attention of Mr.
Moatz; or by mail addressed to: Mail Stop OED-Ethics Rules, U.S. Patent
and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, Virginia 22313-1450.