Updated June 18, 2020:

How Much Does it Cost?

A patent can cost from $900 for a do-it-yourself application to between $5,000 and $10,000+ with the help of patent lawyers.

A patent protects an invention and the cost of the process to get the patent will depend on the type of patent (provisional, non-provisional, or utility) and the complexity of the invention.

The Cost of Each Patent Application Type

Before you can think about patent costs, you must come up with a unique product idea that doesn't copy prior art. Prior art is any idea or product that already exists. After you have an original idea, you are ready to file a patent application.

The cost of filing a patent application can usually be divided into three parts: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) filing fees, lawyer fees, and drawing fees.

When you think about how simple or how complex ideas and inventions can be, you can understand why patents have different costs. More complex inventions cost more to patent than simpler designs. Patent lawyers can give you more exact estimates after they review your invention.

Patent costs vary based on many factors, including the patent application type. You'll find two key types of patent applications: a provisional patent application and a non-provisional patent (also called an utility patent application).

Provisional Patent Application

Think of a provisional patent application as a preliminary patent.

After you successfully file a provisional patent application, you have one year to file for a non-provisional patent.

Although a provisional patent isn't considered a true patent, it protects your intellectual property for 12 months the way a non-provisional patent would.

Filing a provisional patent application can cost as low as $65. However, provisional patent applications typically cost between $5,000 and $9,000 plus legal fees.

Non-Provisional Patent Application

A non-provisional patent (also called a utility patent) is a full patent which protects an inventor's intellectual property for as long as the patent is in effect.

Filing a non-provisional patent application is more expensive and costs about $900. This total also includes search and review as well as examination fees which cost around $220. Once you add legal fees, non-provisional patents usually cost between $8,000 and $15,000 or more.

Filing a non-provisional patent with lawyer fees will usually cost the following for each invention type:

  • An extremely simple invention, such as a paper clip or coat hanger, will cost between $5,000 and $7,000.

  • A relatively simple invention, such as a board game or umbrella, will cost between $7,000 and $8,500.

  • A minimally complex invention, such as a power hand tool or camera, will cost between $8,500 and $10,000.

  • A moderately complex invention, such as a ride-on lawn mower or a cell phone, will cost between $10,000 and $12,000.

  • A relatively complex invention, such as a shock-absorbing prosthetic product, will cost between $12,000 and $14,000.

  • A highly complex invention, such as an MRI scanner or satellite technology, will cost between $14,000 and $16,000.

  • A software-related invention, such as an automated system or a business program, will cost more than $16,000.

Design Patent

A design patent is another, more limited, patent option which protects a product's unique appearance only.

Design patents are commonly used to protect apparel and fashion pieces, the shape of medical products, and the way manufactured goods look. A fashion house might patent a handbag to make sure competitors don't copy the bag's design features.

With legal fees for preparation and filing, getting a design patent usually costs between $2,500 and $3,000 including a $140 examination fee.

Plant Patent

A plant patent is one that people who discover and reproduce a plant can use. This plant can't be grown by tubers, types of underground plant storage structures, or found in an uncultivated state.

Filing a plant patent application costs between $360 and $720. The examination fees for a plant patent are $170. Including these costs, legal fees, and other charges, a plant patent typically costs between $4,660 and $7,620.

Factors That Can Affect a Patent's Cost

While the type of patent is the largest part that affects costs, other factors can also play a part:

  • The size of the business or the type of person applying for a patent. Individuals pay less than small businesses. Large firms pay the most for their patents.

  • The invention's technology. If the invention has much technology behind it, it will be more expensive than one that doesn't rely so much on technology.

  • Market opportunities for the invention. In a strong market, inventors will often spend more money to make sure their invention has the best protection.

  • Similar products with patents. In a crowded marketplace, inventors need to make more effort to show that their new products are unique enough to get patents.

  • Geography. Protecting the idea behind an invention in several countries requires more money.

More Costs Connected With Filing Patents

Most inventors pay other costs to file their patent applications. While the USPTO decides if an invention is original by using its own patent search, many inventors pay between $1,000 and $3,000 for professional patent searches before they send their applications.

A patent search lets inventors know if their ideas are unique enough and worth spending time and money to develop.

A professional patent search with opinion will usually cost the following for each invention type:

  • An extremely or relatively simple invention will cost between $1,000 and $1,250.

  • A minimally complex invention will cost between $1,250 and $1,500.

  • A moderately complex invention will cost between $1,500 and $1,750.

  • A relatively complex invention will cost between $1,750 and $2,000.

  • A highly complex invention will cost between $2,000 and $2,500.

  • A software-related invention will cost between $2,500 and $3,000.

If a patent has more than three claims, an extra $220 applies per claim. When more than 10 claims are present, $52 per claim applies.

Many patent applications include professional drawings. Getting these drawings can typically raise an application's cost by between $300 and $500.

Legal fees may also go higher if a client needs a lot of patent prosecution during the application's patent-pending phase. Prosecution costs can become higher as inventions get more complex. Inventors can expect to spend the following on prosecution costs:

  • $2,500 to $4,000 and above for a basic mechanical invention

  • $3,000 to $7,000 and above for a complex mechanical invention

  • $2,500 to $7,000 for a basic electrical or software invention

  • $3,500 to $7,500 for a complex electrical or software invention

Many patents get rejected after they're filed. Inventors can appeal their cases to reverse the USPTO's decision, but appeals cost more money. Filing a written response usually costs between $2,000 and $5,000. Inventors may speak to patent examiners in person, but a face-to-face meeting also costs several thousands of dollars.

Inventors must also pay maintenance fees every few years to keep their provisional patent valid:

  • $980 after 3 1/2 years

  • $2,480 after 7 1/2 years

  • $4,110 after 11 years

Inventors who change their patents must also pay amendment fees. With new legal fees, amendments usually cost between $2,200 and $3,500.

Inventors may also face other fees during their patents' prosecution and 20-year terms, including:

  • Extension-of-time fees

  • Post-issuance fees

  • Financial service (administrative) fees

  • Trademark processing fees

Example of Costs for a Patent

With so many costs, you might not understand how much a patent might cost for a company. Imagine an inventor with a small startup firm wants to patent a unique alarm clock. This inventor might expect the following costs:

  • Patent search with a lawyer's opinion: $2,000

  • Creating and filing a provisional patent application: $2,500

  • Filing the utility patent with the USPTO: $130 (cost for small entity)

  • Non-provisional patent application based off provisional filing: $10,500

  • Filing fee to the USPTO for non-provisional patent application: $800 (cost for small entity)

  • Professional illustrations for non-provisional patent application: $400

  • Total cost: $16,330

The inventor here could have saved $130 by skipping the provisional patent application, but the person wanted the 12-month period for more market research to refine the design.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why should I use a patent lawyer?

    Small mistakes can hurt your chances for patent approval. Patent lawyers receive training in all aspects of patent law. They also usually have technical degrees in fields such as biotechnology and computer science that give them a high level of understanding of the inventions they represent. They can greatly help during the patent application process. While their experience in patent applications comes at a cost, a patent lawyer can save you money and stress from sending incomplete or incorrect patent applications.

  • Should I go for a provisional patent application first?

    This decision is a personal one, but many inventors like to go for a provisional patent application before they file a non-provisional patent application. They use the provisional patent's 12-month period to further develop their products and do market research. After this period, the inventors can apply for full patents, safe in the knowledge that their intellectual property was protected while they refined their work.

  • What can I do to cut down costs on my legal bills?

    You could create your own patent application and ask a patent lawyer to review your application when you're ready to send it to the USPTO. Search for similar patents online and use them as templates for your own. Since you have done much of the work, most patent lawyers will offer a discount for your efforts.

You should also do some thorough research to make sure you're getting the best-value patent lawyer. The prices patent lawyers charge vary, so get a few quotes. While you shouldn't downplay your legal costs, you don't necessarily need to pay high fees either.

  • Should I get a trademark too?

    Just as a patent protects a product's content, a trademark protects its name. A trademark can cut the risk of competitors impacting your profits and become a valuable selling point for potential licensees. In some states, you must use the trademark in interstate commerce before you register it, so check your state's laws.

Once you've decided on your trademark, promote it using the ™ symbol and register your trademark with the USPTO. Once approved, which usually takes 10 to 14 months, you can use the ® symbol to show your trademark's registration.

Getting clear information about the costs involved with establishing a patent can help inventors better manage their budgets when developing new products. A patent lawyer can help you gain a clearer picture of all costs for getting a patent. To learn more about the costs of getting a patent or starting the process, post your legal need here to get free custom quotes from patent lawyers. UpCounsel screens for the top 5% of patent lawyers who are familiar with the patent process.