What Is the Cost of a Non-Provisional Patent?

Though the final non-provisional patent cost will vary case-by-case, some examples are:

  • Filing and preparation of a relatively simple application by a small firm (10 claims and a 10-page specification) = $8,548.00
  • Relatively complex biotech/chem invention = $4,448.00
  • More complex biotech/chem invention = $15,398.00
  • More involved mechanical engineering invention = $11,482.00
  • Minimally complex mechanical invention = $2,244.00

When the USPTO approves a patent application, an issue fee is charged to the applicant.

The fee (including the publication charge) is currently $2,070 for a larger company. Smaller companies get a discount and pay only $1,185.00.

Provisional vs. Non-Provisional

In the U.S., inventors can file for provisional patents. An application for a provisional patent must completely disclose the invention, just as a non-provisional patent would. Provisional patents have considerably fewer formalities than non-provisional, making them easier to prepare.

However, a provisional patent application alone will not result in the issuance of a patent. It lasts for one year and gives the inventor more time to do research and complete the invention before submitting a non-provisional patent application. It is used to set an initial filing date for the invention and delay the larger expense of the full patent application. Upon filing a provisional patent application, the inventor will obtain “patent pending” status for the invention and have a relatively long time to decide whether it is worth investing more in the invention.

Think of it this way: The provisional route is a two-step path through the patent process. The non-provisional application route is a one-step process that takes longer than that first, provisional step by itself.

The first, smaller step in the provisional patent route is filing a provisional patent application. This must be supplemented by a non-provisional filing at some point for the patent to be “real.”

The two steps in the provisional patent process require more time than the single-step non-provisional request process. The provisional application is never put in a queue at the patent office for examination. Only non-provisional applications are examined that way. But that one long process happens in both provisional and non-provisional patents.

Example: Betty's lawyer files a non-provisional patent application on March 5, 2013. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office then queues the patent to be examined. Betty waits to hear back. Then, she waits some more.

Now let's consider what happens when Betty files a provisional patent application first. Her provisional patent is issued quickly. It's never examined; it's merely recorded. The examination relevant to the non-provisional patent is put off until later.

In the meantime, Betty has a provisional patent that might provide her with some security for her intellectual property.

The Two-Step Advantage

The two-step provisional route has two major advantages.

  1. Total patent costs are spread over a one- or two-year period. This is good for cash-limited new small businesses.
  2. Some inventions require disclosure before they're ready for release. This could be to secure more capital or to convince potential customers. A provisional patent is one way to secure intellectual property rights so an inventor can publicize the invention for business purposes.

A provisional patent is quick, simple, informal, and loose. Its non-provisional counterpart is the opposite: demanding, involved, formal, and very strict.

The application for a non-provisional patent is long. It contains many sections, each of which has its own many and varied rules.

Steps and Fees

Before you file a non-provisional patent application, you must complete the following tasks:

  • Describe your invention in detail. The description you submit with your non-provisional patent application should include specifications, prose, graphs, and drawings that explain your invention so elaborately that a skilled practitioner can use it to manufacture your invention.
  • Draft patent claims. Patent claims describe specific features of your invention that should be protected.
  • Write an abstract. The abstract should not exceed 150 words. It should clearly explain your invention and its function and main components.
  • Create digital copies. Make digital copies of the description, claims, and abstract.

Here's a rough overview of the forms and fees involved with the non-provisional patent application process.

  • The Application Transmittal form — essentially a cover sheet for your application.
  • The Fee Transmittal form shows calculations of applicable fees.
  • The Declaration for Utility or Design Patent application form requires your name and contact info; each inventor's name and vital info; information on any foreign patents; and a declaration that you are the first inventor(s) to file for a patent.
  • The Application Data Sheet covers information on the invention.

Gather these forms, and submit them to the patent office using the EFS-Web system. Remember to pay the application filing fee (a few hundred dollars). Stay tuned for any correspondence from the patent office, and respond accordingly.

When your patent has been approved, be ready to pay the patent issuance fee. This can also run into the hundreds of dollars.

Typical patent applications involve three types of fees:

  1. Attorney fees
  2. Patent Office filing fees
  3. Drawing fees

Of the three, the most significant expense is the attorney fee.

Cost of Filing a Provisional Patent Application

Because it involves far fewer formalities, a provisional patent application costs less. The inventor can submit documents to support the original provisional patent application and try to get as much information as possible into the documents. Many inventors that try to get a provisional patent do so because they have made significant progress and wish to protect what they have created so far while they continue refining and perfecting their inventions.

The provisional patent application fee is $130 for a small business. One page of drawings typically costs between $100 and $125. Therefore, a high-quality provisional application for an electrical or mechanical device can usually be prepared and filed for $2,500 to $3,000.

The price quoted for a provisional patent application can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the invention and the technology involved. For instance, the cost of preparing and filing a provisional application for a computer-related invention and software is usually $6,000, plus the drawing costs and filing fee.

Help When You Need It

To reduce their patent application costs, inventors and business owners often resort to cutting corners. Inventors should do their own patent search first. It makes little sense to engage the services of an attorney or researcher for this step. As the invention comes closer to fruition and confidence in its patentability increases, a professional searcher working with a patent attorney can help confirm the invention's uniqueness.

When it comes to the expensive and expansive non-provisional patent process, a search and analysis by a patent attorney is money well-spent. It will prevent challenges from arising later.

Also, a search might dictate the remainder of the patent application process or show that you likely won't be able to secure an appropriately broad patent claim. In this case, the inventor can save thousands of dollars by abandoning the patent project.

If you need help filing a non-provisional 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.