Back in the day, when you filed a patent application, you would send in a filing fee that covered filing expenses, searching, and examination -- all for one low price of around $700 (less for small entities). In the recent rash of Fee Changes, the filing fee has been reduced to $300! "Hold-on now," you're saying, "patent office (and attorney) fees are never reduced." The trick is that the PTO added a search fee $500 and an examination fee $200. Bringing the total due on filing to $1,000.
This break-down of the fees suggests that the PTO may also change its practice.
Is there some chance that the PTO will adapt to the PCT practice of providing a search report? What a grand idea.