Cost of Filing a Patent

When filing for a patent, the cost of filing a patent is an important consideration. Estimating the entire process can be a challenge depending on type of invention, specifications, and intended distribution. Patents that are unique inventions can be researched for prior art. If there is no existing invention with a patent registration, the new idea will be considered as an originating invention. Improvements to existing patented inventions can also be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Rules to patent registration have become stricter in the past decade. Precedent setting cases to result from litigation over patent infringement of major innovations in the technologies fields in the United States Supreme Court of Appeals, has created the conditions for a more complex and expensive patent registration process.

USPTO patent application processing requires an elaborate claim including written description of each step in an invention’s research, development and functional use, as well as an illustration outlining the physical nature of the invention itself. The cost of assembling this portfolio of documents can be costly.

Do You Have a New Invention Idea?

Patents are not actually registration of an idea, but the manifestation of one in a design or utility, such as a process. The distinction between copyright, or artist right to original work created a mano (“by the hand”) and patent, is that the former is limits ownership and rights to creative license, reproduction, and enrichment from the work by default. While copyrights can be registered with the United States Copyright Office, the process does not entail the same degree of paperwork, or level of cost. Patent registration from the USPTO is reserved for invention. Invention is characterized by original design or utility, and replicability of process for use. Use value, then, distinguishes an invention patent from a copyright.

Patents can be trademarked by a company as well to ensure that the image and resale of an invention is protected. If an invention idea is new, yet still undergoing research, design, or testing, it is important to file a patent application. Some inventors find that a provisional patent application is sufficient for protecting their work at the development stage. The minimum USPTO patent filing fee for small entities is $730. Most independent inventors fall in this category. All patent filings require professional drawings, costing at least $300 to $500 to meet USPTO requirements. If an invention is simple, it may be important to evaluate its use value post patent. Patenting of an invention not marketable for distribution may not be a valuable business decision. An intellectual property attorney specializing in patent law can provide more insight into the value of patent registration in relation to research and development costs already invested in an invention.

Filing a provisional patent application requires full disclosure of an invention and its current prototype. A provisional patent protects an inventor’s right to the invention in its present state at time of application. Inventors have 12 months grace period to file a nonprovisional patent from date of provisional patent application. Most patent attorneys charge a minimum of $2,000 for a provisional patent application preparation and filing. The application filing fee is $130 for an independent inventor or small entity. Drawings are mandatory and usually cost $100 to $125 a page. Computer, electrical or mechanical device provisional patent applications may demand $2,500 to $6,000 or more for illustration and filing fees, based on the complexity of the invention. Like nonprovisional patent applications, provisional patent applications must be accompanied by illustration and description of the engineering of the technology or invention involved.

Inventors of sophisticated technologies inventions in the latter phase of research and development may submit a nonprovisional patent application to secure their idea from counterfeit. The USPTO requires adequate technical disclosure. Technical disclosure should include variations, alternatives, and embodiments as an option in replicating the invention under consideration. Patent protections are strongest where an invention and its worth has been sufficiently mapped out in a registration application claim. It is also more likely that an invention will receive the attention of investors that may be needed to offset the costs of the patent and marketing of the invention for sale once registered.

Estimating costs for patent of inventions in the software sector or biotechnology sector is made more complex due to interpretations of “process.” Not all developments in these two categories are considered “inventions.” This is especially so where software programming is merely interpreted as creative “copyright,” or biotechnology integration of natural matter ineligible for patent. Companies involved in these fields often pay twice the amount for legal fees and start-up costs toward patent registration.

Research of prior art of existing patents should result in 80 percent confidence level that an invention is new or an improvement before filing for a patent. Professional patent researchers working with a patent attorney can provide a written opinion about an invention in relation to prior art. Cost for a formal opinion may range $1,000 to $3,000 and consists of (1) analysis; (2) describing complexity of invention; and (3) prior art discovered. Investing in a patent attorney and patent research is generally considered the professional method of preparing for the patent registration application process.

The patent application process for a nonprovisional patent with an attorney costs between $5000 and $15,000. The nonprovisional patent application process may cost more depending on the intricacies of the claim. For companies, the market opportunities may add significantly to the cost of a large sale project dedicated to generating return on invention investment. More may be spent on inventions with market potential. Patent registration protects an inventor or a company involved in innovation from infringement.

Cost for Patent

Up to 97 percent of registered patents generate less revenue than original cost. Estimating the cost of a patent is does not always include expenses associated with issuance, revision, and litigation. An attorney may seem like an expensive upfront cost, yet is often a worthwhile investment once a patent registration of a popular invention is secure.

How much does a patent cost?

The American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) in an oversight hearing regarding the USPTO on patent cost. Information taken from the AIPLA Report of the Economic Survey 2007, a survey of patent attorney practitioners.

You Get What You Pay For

The adage “you get what you pay for” is somewhat true in the case of patent registration. The good news is that patent registration application fee is only a few hundred dollars, and about half for an individual inventor or small entity filing. Often a small expense relative to the overall cost of an invention project, the patent registration secures rights to long term design and use. Large entities applying for utility patent can expect to pay upward to a few thousand dollars.

Do it Yourself

The world of DIY (“do it yourself”) is vast. Globally speaking, the number of independent DIY inventors presents a significant challenge to an inventor hoping to capitalize on original ideas. Some inventors settle for an improvement of an existing patented invention found at time of prior art search. Research of academic papers and other professional research sources will enhance knowledge of an invention concept and any prior research and development already conducted on a similar idea or process.

Other Kinds of Patents

While undertaking testing on a prototype, a provisional patent is the solution to rights protection. Inventors can submit a draft patent application to the USPTO within a year of filing, requesting conversion to a nonprovisional utility application. Less expensive and complex to draft, provisional patent applications are the quick way of getting the patent process started. For patent protection of specific kinds of engineered inventions, such as machines, methods or systems utility patent should be considered. Scheduling utility patent application preparation usually requires an extended period to compile the claim and illustration of the work. Design patents are simple by comparison, and cover the rights to the layout of user interfaces, manufactured goods, fashion, and medical devices.

Don't File for That Patent Yet

The USPTO provides information on both patent and trademark, and outlines eligibility for both types of registration. In some cases, an invention considered for provisional utility patent registration, turns out to be better suited to trademark registration. Both the provisional patent registration and trademark registration applications are lower in cost than a utility patent registration.

Issues of public disclosure may impact the decision to patent an invention. Extrapolation of value from licensing agreements may be easier with a trademark registration recognized as a “brand” rather than a manifestation of a concept or process. For this reason, inventors are often reluctant to share their innovation. Once disclosed, international patent rights are at risk during the U.S. patent application process. Patent pending disclosure in business agreements reflects this concern, and protects the owners of the provisional patent.

What does this mean?

The phase “Patent Pending” can be included on a prototype, and in documentation related to an invention undergoing research and development. Patent pending is valid from the date of provisional patent application filing.  

So, how do you do this?

When writing a provisional patent application, there are three elements in law that should be acknowledged to protect the applicant. Intellectual property lawyers recommend that a USPTO provisional patent application meets the requirements to written description and enablement 35 U.S.C. 112 describing the aspects of an invention and relation to other innovation. Describing the universal nature of an invention is safer than narrowing explanation to the intricacies of intended use. By focusing on accuracy without making exceptional claims in terms of future use, a provisional patent application description will be considered meeting the USPTO eligibility criteria.

The Average Cost of Preparing a Utility Patent Application

Intellectual property attorney fees are charged according to complexity of filing. The following are the average law firm fees for preparation and filing of a utility patent application:

Small patent firm (10 claims, 10 pg. specification) is equal to $8,548.00. Relatively complex biotechnology/chemical cases is equal to $15,398.00 Relatively complex mechanical cases are equal to $11,482.00 Relatively complex electrical/computer cases are equal to $13,684

The above costs do not include amendments following USPTO rejection of an initial application. Additional attorney fees may apply.

Every round of amendments mandates more fees for attorneys.

Per the report by AIPLA in 2007 , the typical attorney fees for an invidiual amendment were:

Minimal complexity is equal to $2,244.00 Relatively complex biotechnology/chemical case  is equal to $4,448.00 Relatively complex electrical/computer case is equal to $3,910.00 Relatively complex mechanical case is equal to $3,506.00

Issuance and Post-allowance Fees

When the USPTO allows filing an application for a patent, applicants have to pay the issue fee prior to being awarded the patent. As of now, the issue fee for a utility patent (which includes the fee for publication) is $1,185.00 for small entities and $2,070 for large entities. Once granted, fess for mainting the patent are due at 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years after issuance.

Now, the small entity/large entity fees for maintenance are $575/$1,150 at 3.5 years, $1,450/$2,900 at 7.5 years and $2,405/$4,810 at 11.5 years.

The USPTO puts forth and is paid maintenance and issuance fees.

If you need help with the cost of filing a patent, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.