Cost of Patents: Everything You Need to Know

The cost of patents varies greatly depending on the type of patent protection you are seeking as well as the complexity of your invention. You’ll either file a utility or patent application with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (“USPTO”). While you’ll generally file a non-provisional patent application, you may choose to file a provisional application instead, which will be much less expensive.

But before you do anything, you’ll want to do a significant amount of research ahead of time to try to ascertain the costs associated with your patent application. Before you immediately determine that you want to go at it alone and not have an attorney assist you throughout the process, take some notes to first determine the costs you may incur from filing for such protection, and the likelihood of success in filing on your own. Remember that hiring an attorney can save you not only time but additional costs associated with amending your application or, alternatively, failing to receive such protection.

Steps to Take Before Filing for Patent Protection

1. Patent Search

Before you decide to go ahead and file for patent protection, there are some steps you’ll need to take. Most importantly, you’ll want to run a patent search online. There are several websites out there, including “Google Patents” that can provide you with information on active patents. However, you can always visit the USPTO website for such information. Many people have great inventions; but what they don’t realize is that their so-called “new” invention is not so new. A lot of inventors run patent searches just to find out that the invention has already been created. If you run into this problem, you’ll want to skip the patent process as you’ll be unsuccessful in any attempt to file for protection on an invention that doesn’t belong to you.

2. Speak to a Patent Attorney

Even if you think you can’t afford an attorney for the patent process, you’ll want to keep in mind that, regardless of whether or not you hire an attorney, the costs associated with filing a patent can be high. If you have a very simple product that you wish to protect, then you can file for patent protection on your own. But if your product is multifaceted, then you’ll definitely benefit from hiring an attorney to assist you throughout the patent application process.

If your invention is in fact intricate, but you feel as though you just can’t afford an attorney, then do your research and write down the other costs associated with your specific invention.

3. Reach Out to Your Network

Even before speaking with an attorney, you may find it beneficial to reach out to your network of friends and family to see if anyone you know has gone through the patent process. You can even take it a step further by reaching out to your friends on social media sites, asking for recommendations or free assistance. It is likely that there are others out there who can help you identify any drawbacks or problems regarding your invention. On the plus side, you may even be able to find an attorney who is qualified in this area and willing to help you for very little money. But before you overly share your invention via social media, remember that your invention has no protection yet, so be careful what you share with others.

How Much Will It Cost?

The answer to this question, as previously noted, will depend on many factors. Such factors can include:

  • The complexity of your invention
  • The type of invention
  • The intended use of your invention
  • What type of patent you are applying for – design or utility
  • If you are filing a non-provisional or provisional patent
  • Whether or not you intend on hiring an attorney
  • Whether or not you intend on having a professional produce an illustration of your invention

Remember that there isn’t simply one filing fee, but rather multiple fees, which include maintenance fees throughout the life of the patent, fees for amending your application if need be, and other potential miscellaneous fees depending on the type of invention.

Costs Broken Down

Non-Provisional Patent

The non-provisional patent application is the typical patent application that inventors submit for total and complete protection of their invention. It’s a stand patent application that must be filled out in such a way that a patent examiner from the USPTO understands the importance and justification of protecting such an invention. Fees can include:

  • $400 filing fee (this fee also includes the search and other miscellaneous research conducted by the patent examiner)
  • $450 issuing fee at year 3
  • Additional fees throughout the life of the patent, which must be paid at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years and cost roughly $400, $900, and $2,000 respectively. It could be more depending on the type of invention you have.

Provisional Patent

Unlike the non-provisional patent, the provisional patent is an application which essentially indicates that your invention is “patent pending;” therefore, after you file this type of patent application, you will have a period of 1 year from the time of filing to decide if you wish to seek patent protection in the form of a non-provisional patent. The provisional patent is not a protection, but rather a notice given to the public that they cannot copy your invention for a period of one year. This will give you time to decide whether you want to file for patent protection. This application is must less expensive than the non-provisional patent. Generally, the only fee associated with a provisional patent is the $65 filing fee. But remember, if you choose to file for non-provisional patent protection within that one year period, you will then be required to pay the $400 non-provisional filing fee, the $450 issuing fee at year 3, $400 fee at year 3.5, $900 fee at year 7.5, and $2,000 fee at year 11.5.

Utility Patent

A utility patent protects certain types of inventions, which include machinery, processes, manufacturing, and business methods. You’ll usually want to hire an attorney when filing for a utility patent due to the complexity of your invention. Therefore, the costs associated with filing for patent protection in this instance will be much higher, since attorneys can charge between $10,000-$20,000. Remember that you could always file a provisional patent first, which will only cost you around $65. However, if you choose to file a non-provisional utility patent application, other fees can include:

  • Depending on the type of invention you have, the patent application can be costly, upwards near $9,000 total depending on the number of claims, inventors, etc.
  • Chemical-type inventions: Total cost can be roughly $16,000
  • Electrical/Computer inventions: Total cost can be roughly $14,000
  • Mechanical inventions: Total cost can be roughly $12,000
  • Utility patents usually have to be amended at the request of a patent examiner. Therefore, such amendments can cost another couple thousand dollars depending on what needs to be amended and how many amendments you must make.

Design Patent

The design patent provides the overall design or layout of your invention, but not the specific features of the product. The fees associated with this type of patent are very inexpensive. The fee is around $380 for small businesses, and only around $190 for micro entities. Even if you choose to hire an attorney to help you file for design patent protection, you may only have to pay around $1,000 to $1,500 for assistance, depending on the attorney of course. Some attorneys charge much less than others for design patents simply because the application is simple and quick. As previously noted, these fees are only associated with non-provisional patent application.

If you need help applying for a patent or need additional information figuring out the costs associated with specific types of patent applications, 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.