It’s important to remember that the strategic value of a valid software patent is in protecting your idea from inappropriate use by the competition as well as positioning your company for better earnings. The cost of a patent is relevant to the perceived value of the patent, so applying for a patent on a new miracle invention could be worth every penny you spend (and more). Applying for a patent on something that everyone knows how to work around, on the other hand, makes no sense and isn’t worth the basic application fee no matter how cool your workaround is.
According to the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the typical software patent costs between $8,000 and $12,000 with the median about $10,000. Those prices including filing fees. The typical software patent on UpCounsel costs between $6,000 and $9,000 and includes representation after filing.
Steps to Save Money on a Software Patent Application
While the cost of a software patent is relative, you can minimize the cost by doing the following steps (listed in no particular order):
Start with the obvious – take your time to research the right attorney to find one who is an expert in your type of patent and will work with you on a price you can afford.
Prepare your own search to verify how novel your method really is – this can save you big money in the long run and tell you how quickly you need to file a patent (or not).
Prepare as much useful material as possible for your patent attorney – doing the legwork yourself means you minimize billed hours.
File a provisional patent application, then use the year’s hiatus to iterate the software, test market viability, and even find investors.
Provisional patent applications cost much less but serve to ‘reserve your starting date’ so to speak. Lots of software companies are using this method to lock the protection of their idea while ensuring that the software is worth taking forward. A provisional patent usually costs around $1,500-$2,000 through UpCounsel.
Tips to Save Money Enforcing a Software Patent
The owner of a patent is also the enforcer of their patent, so when you have to make decisions about enforcing your patent protections, the following tips are important to consider:
File only in the countries relevant to your industry.
File only if you plan to license or sell your software.
Most attorneys will also advise that you stop prosecution when it’s obvious the end result will be not useful to your business, but that is entirely a personal decision.