How Much Does It Cost to Apply for a Patent?

How much does it cost to apply for a patent? To find out, you’ll want to first do your research to ascertain the costs associated with applying for patent protection. A patent is an exclusive right granted to you by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) for a specified period of time, which protects against others using your idea or invention.

Idea vs. Invention

You may have a great idea, but not a concrete invention. Remember that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to have an idea patented. Therefore, you must take your idea a step further by actually implementing a product from your new and exciting idea.

Most people who have an invention fail to seek for patent protection. Whether it be because they are unfamiliar with such protection or are unable to afford the costs that come with protecting the invention, people fail to obtain patent protection and risk losing the invention to another person. Even if someone else invents the same product after you, you might lose out if that other person successfully obtains patent protection before you.

Challenges to Patenting An Invention

While many people are afraid or unaware of the patent process, others have the false belief that it is an incredibly simple and straightforward process to obtain protection. However, this isn’t always the case. An inventor could face some rather difficult challenges when attempting to patent his or her invention. First and foremost, the invention must be unique to any other invention sold in the marketplace. Many people think their invention is new and unique; however, more often than not, another similar or even identical invention already exists. What’s more is that the other invention may already be patented without you knowing.

The USPTO has increased its requirements for obtaining a patent, making it both more difficult and expensive to obtain patent protection.

Considerations Before Filing for Patent Protection

There are many considerations that should be taken before deciding whether or not to file for patent protection. You’ll want to ensure that you take all the necessary steps before incurring such costly fees. Some considerations including the following:

  • Call a Patent Attorney. You’ll want to discuss your invention with a qualified licensed patent attorney. An attorney can better explain the process itself, costs associated with filing for protection, and any other challenges that you may face along the way. Further, if you choose to hire an attorney to file for patent protection for you, you’ll be rest assured knowing that you could have a better chance of obtaining protection while not forgetting to complete any important steps along the way.
  • Think about your invention. Is it simple? Or is it complex in that there are smaller parts to the invention. Remember that the simpler your invention is, the quicker the process will be along with fewer fees. The more complex your invention is, the longer and more expensive the patent process will be. If your invention is rather complex, it may be best to hire a qualified patent attorney who can assist you throughout the process.

General Patent Fees

  • If you operate a small business, there is a filing fee of at least $730.
  • For micro entities, the cost will be roughly $400.
  • If you choose to have your invention drawn by a professional, the fee could be between $300-$500 depending on the type of drawing as well as the length of time it could take to prepare the illustration.
  • If you choose to hire a patent attorney to assist you with filing for patent protection, you’ll be required to pay a set of legal fees. Ensure that you discuss these fees with your attorney ahead of time so that you are aware of the added costs.

Filing for Patent Protection On Your Own

If you do not wish to hire a patent attorney, then you can file for patent protection on your own. But keep in mind that it can take a lot of time filing for patent protection. It’s not as simple as filling out the application and submitting it online. The first step when wanting to file for patent protection is to run a patent search. When running this search, you’ll be able to identify if any other inventors already created a similar or identical product to yours. If this is the case, then you will likely be unsuccessful in your patent application. When running your search, be open to the idea of reaching out to other inventors who have gone through the patent process alone. You may even have a friend who used a patent attorney. If so, you may be able to get some pointers from your friend who went through the process, and has the knowledge and understanding of what the process will be like.

If you see another invention that is somewhat similar to yours, you can use that application as a template for yours. Especially since that patent application was successful. After running your search and sifting through successful patent applications, you’ll have a better idea of what to draft in your own application for the best possible outcome.

Types of Patents

There are various types of patent protection that you can apply for, including a utility or design patent. These patents can be either non-provisional or provisional.

Non-provisional Patent

If you wish to file for absolute patent protection, then you’ll want to file a non-provisional patent application. This application is the most complex type of application in the patent world as you are essentially filing for complete protection of your invention. Unlike a provisional patent, a non-provisional patent is one that protects your entire invention from being copied by others.

Provisional Patent

This type of patent isn’t an actual patent application, but rather a pre-notification. Essentially, the provisional patent application puts the public on notice that you may apply for non-provisional protection in the near future. Generally, you have one year from the time of filing a provisional patent to decide whether or not you will apply for non-provisional patent protection. The provisional patent application is much cheaper than a non-provisional application, and can be completed and filed almost immediately after submitting it. Just remember that you will only have 12 months from the date of filing to determine whether or not you will apply for non-provisional patent protection of your invention.

Another benefit of the provisional patent is that you can alert the public that your invention is “patent pending.” This means that others cannot copy your invention or financially benefit from an identical invention.

Utility Patent

An inventor can submit what’s called a utility application, which protects certain things like machines or systems. It generally takes about 12 months to complete the utility patent process. Generally, a utility patent can be expensive costing between $8,000 and $9,000. But more complex-type inventions can cost even more, up to $15,000. Oftentimes, utility patent applications will need to be amended at the request of an examiner from the USPTO. If this is the case, it will cost more to amend the patent application, usually another $3,000 depending on how many times you are required to amend. Remember that the utility patent application can be either provisional or non-provisional.

Design Patent

The design patent protects “aesthetic” designs, which includes manufactured products, the shape of certain devices, and the layout of user interfaces. If you have an invention that qualifies for both design and utility patent protection, you can apply for both. A benefit to the design patent is that it is less expensive than a non-provisional patent application. Just like with the utility patents, the design patent application can be either non-provisional or provisional.

As previously noted, the provisional application is not really an application seeking patent protection but rather an application putting everyone on notice that your invention is “patent pending” for a period of one-year while you determine your next plan of action in terms of seeking non-provisional patent protection.

If you need help learning how much the patent process will cost for your invention, or if you are unsure whether or not you should apply for patent protection, 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.