How Much Does a U.S. Patent Cost?

The cost of a U.S. patent is difficult to estimate because a lot is dependent upon the technology involved. The cost of applying for a patent is just one aspect of the total costs that you as an inventor have to think about. Additional costs include revising, issuing, prosecuting, and maintaining the patent.

While the exact cost of obtaining a U.S. patent can vary widely, we can provide some general estimates.

  • The federal government charges a minimum submission fee of $730 for small entities. This is how most autonomous inventors and small businesses are characterized.
  • For micro entities, the submitting charges could be as low as $400.
  • Submitting charges can and will increase based on the variety of claims in the application.
  • Professional drawings, which are actually required, will usually add at the very least $300 to $500 for a set of drawings.
  • Most of what gets spent on an application depends on what you intend to do with your patent and if there are realistic opportunities for it within the current market. If there are realistic market alternatives, you might pay extra fees to ensure that you have identified the invention enough to have a strong resulting patent.

Getting a stronger patent requires extra claims and extra consideration, which includes technical disclosures and descriptions of as many alternate options, choices, and various incarnations as possible. Now, this process requires more lawyer time, which in turn means extra time spent with the patent examiner to get it issued.

You Get What You Pay For

When discussing patents, utility patents are the ones that people are usually thinking about. Most of the cost of a utility patent doesn't come from the patent office; rather, it comes from needing a lawyer for application preparation. The typical cost of a utility patent application is thousands of dollars. Simple inventions may cost only a few thousand, while more complex creations will cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Patent lawyers have specialized training or technical degrees to help with this process. In fields like computers or biotechnology, a patent lawyer will often have a Ph.D. or high-level technical training. Patent lawyers will also usually head up a team of specialists. This team can include illustrators, expert technicians, and paraprofessionals who will complete the filings. All of these moving parts cost money, and that’s what makes utility patenting such an expensive process.

On top of preparing and filing the patent application, your attorney may also need to be paid to hold negotiations with the patent office. The patent office might make several rejections throughout the process, and every response that your lawyer takes to the patent office can cost more than a thousand dollars. You might even need to appeal the decision of the patent examiner, either to the patent office’s internal review board or to the federal courts.

Can You Do It on Your Own?

You are allowed to file your own patent applications. It will cost you far less in the short term, but the amount of work and your lack of professional training might hinder instead of help. Seemingly small mistakes can quickly thwart your efforts and stop you from getting a proper patent for your invention. This possibility is why patent lawyers pay the most for malpractice insurance in comparison to nearly any other type of lawyer.

Patent Cost Examples:

Example 1: Computer-implemented method for facilitating a particular functionality via the internet

  • $2,500-$3,000 - patent search and attorney opinion
  • $6,000 - provisional patent application prepared and filed
  • $130 - small entity filing fee for provisional patent application, paid to the USPTO
  • $10,000-$12,000 - nonprovisional patent application based on provisional filing
  • $800-$1,250 - small entity filing fee for nonprovisional patent application, paid to the USPTO
  • $500 - professional illustrations for nonprovisional patent application

$19,930.00 to $22,880 = TOTAL COST of filing a nonprovisional patent application based on a previous provisional patent application.

Example 2: Consumer electronics product

  • $1,750 - patent search and attorney opinion
  • $2,500 - provisional patent application prepared and filed
  • $130 - small entity filing fee, paid to the USPTO
  • $8,500 - nonprovisional patent application based on provisional filing
  • $800 - small entity filing fee for nonprovisional patent application, paid to the USPTO
  • $400 - professional illustrations for nonprovisional patent application

$14,080 = TOTAL COST of filing a nonprovisional patent application. You might save some money if you skip the provisional patent application, but the nonprovisional application preparation could cost more without a previous provisional application to work from.

If you need help determining the cost of a filing for a U.S. 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.