Patent Agent Cost: Everything You Need to Know
Patent agent cost is one of the most common questions that entrepreneurs and inventors have when looking to secure a patent. 8 min read
Patent Agent Cost
Patent agent cost is one of the most common questions that entrepreneurs and inventors have when looking to secure a patent. The simple, but inconvenient answer is, “it depends”. It depends on a variety of factors, one such factor being the patent agent cost. Although the exact cost of a utility patent is difficult to pinpoint because every case is unique, you can get a rough estimate of the cost before moving forward with a patent perusal. Having a general idea of the costs that go along with obtaining a patent will help guide you through the process in a more efficient manner.
The very first step in the patent application process is making sure that you understand what qualifies for patent protection. Essentially you have to come up with something unique or novel (something new that doesn’t already exist). The laws for what makes something unique are complex and every year these laws are becoming even more complicated.
Factors That Influence Patent Costs
When applying for a patent, you have to write out a detailed description of the patent along with a set of claims. Unfortunately, because of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the regulations and laws are making the patent application process even more challenging. Although this may sound counterintuitive to everything that was just explained, in some senses securing a patent today is actually easier than it was 10 years ago. However, that doesn’t mean it’s cheaper and that is what makes everything more difficult. When it comes to patents, take the saying “you get what you pay for” seriously.
Keep in mind that the complexity of your invention and the type of invention you have will largely influence the cost of a patent. Many inventors mistakenly believe that their invention is quite simple and can be easily understood. In turn, it become tempting to think that the application process will be cheap and only take a few hours to complete. No matter how seemingly simple an invention is, you would be hard-pressed to find a patent application process that was a walk in the park.
Looking up patent of inventions that are similar to yours is a good way to get a better grasp on the intricacy of patent applications. Upon reviewing patents, you will discover applications with several drawings, plenty of text, and essentially a sizeable amount of information that would be difficult to understand unless you were very familiar with patent law.
In general, the overwhelming majority of patent applications include patents that could be anything from simple to somewhat complex. However, if you are attempting to patent an invention such as an electric device, you can expect the patent application process to be a bit more complicated. The same could be said for any software-related invention. These inventions are considered to be highly complex. In the last few years, the courts have been requiring extensive technical detail from any application that seeks to patent software.
If you are quite certain you want to obtain a patent, you will have to file a non-provisional patent application. The problem is that if you are still developing your invention or don’t know how to articulately describe it to the public yet, filing a non-provisional patent application will prove to be an extremely complicated and even frustrating endeavor. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that determining the exact cost of a non-provisional patent application and the entire patent perusal process would be impossible without the right information about the invention.
However, it isn’t impossible to get some rough estimates on attorney fees you could expect to pay when hiring legal assistance to aid you in the non-provisional patent application filing process.
Before you can even examine legal fees for the services of a patent agent or attorney, you should be aware that small entities (under which small businesses and independent inventors would be classified) will pay a minimum of $730 in governmental filing fees. A micro entity would pay a minimum of $400 in governmental filing fees. Depending on how many claims are included in your application, these minimum filing fees can go up. Additionally, professional illustrations of your invention could be at least $500 for a set of drawings.
Depending on how many hours your patent attorney or agent must put in to help you file a non-provisional patent application, you could expect legal fees to amount to well over $15,000. Again, this depends largely on how complicated your invention is and how broad you need your patent protection to be. What you plan to do with your patent will also influence how much it will cost you to secure that patent.
It might not be difficult to find a patent attorney who will write you a patent on computer software or a business method for a very reasonable price. The problem is that the patent protection won’t be as strong as patent application that costs several thousands of dollars.
A great patent application has everything to do with details. To obtain a stronger patent, you have to provide multiple claims in the application. You also want to make sure you include a disclosure that provides as much description as possible regarding options, variations, an alternative of the invention. Obviously, all of this requires more time from a patent attorney and a higher expense for you, the inventor or small business owner.
If you run a company and they only thing you want to patent is intellectual property, it is more cost-effect to budget per application. It isn’t realistic to secure broad patent protection when you don’t have much of a foundation. And without broad patent protection, it is very difficult to pique the interest of potential investors and others who will fund your project. You probably already know it’s not really possible to kick start a project or invention without startup capital. It is quite common for companies in the software or biotechnology sectors to pay two times more than the aforementioned figures.
Important Basics about the Patent Search and Why You Need to do it
If you are working on a tight budget, there are a few things you can do to minimize expenses when pursuing a patent. However, that doesn’t mean they are advisable. Many small businesses skip the patent search to save some extra money. This almost always proves to be a huge mistake and will create complications for the patent application process later down the line. Many patent attorneys are hesitant to work with an applicant who wants to skip the patent search. To provide you with a clearer example of just how detrimental foregoing the patent search can be, you can conduct a patent search on prior art and still end up with unanticipated art.
Conducting a patent search is one of the most important first steps of a pursuing a patent. By doing this, you get a clearer sense of whether or not you should be pursuing a patent in the first place. The point of a patent search is to make you more confident about your decision. Generally, you to be approximately 80 percent confident about your decision to pursue a patent. If you want to obtain higher levels of confidence in your decision, you would have to invest thousands of dollars into a more complex search.
A “no stone unturned” kind of search is basically impossible, even in the economic sense because complete certainty that no other prior art exists could cost millions of dollars. However, you can come up with sufficient results for a reasonable price when doing a thorough patent search. Without doing a proper patent search, it becomes more difficult to describe your invention correctly.
Although many independent inventors and small business owners have conducted patent searches on their own before, investing in a professional patent search almost always produces better results. An expert will know how to find prior art and pending applications that you might have missed. Additionally along with a professional search, a patent agent or patent attorney will also provide you with a professional written opinion. The total cost of a professional search and written opinion could be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. Ultimately, the cost depends on how detailed the written analysis will be, how complex your invention is, and how much prior art was uncovered that needs further consideration.
To summarize, investing in a professional patent search and a written opinion from a patent agent or attorney is one of the best things you could do to when pursuing a patent. Your will obtain a better sense of direction once you have completed a patent search. Once you have done the search, you will know if the patent project is worth pursuing or if it is something you should give up on. The patent search could end up saving you thousands of dollars.
The Cost Benefits of Starting with a Provisional Patent Application
Another way to save money when pursuing a patent is by filing a provisional patent application before filing the more intricate, time-consuming, and expensive non-provisional patent application. Because the provisional patent application does not require the same number of formalities that a non-provisional patent application does, this type of filing is far less expensive.
The whole purpose of a provisional patent application is to claim the “patent pending” status on an invention while the applicant continues to revise and perfect their idea or product. If you made particular advances in your work and want to protect what you have accomplished so far, a provisional patent application is a very good idea.
When you file a provisional patent application, you will be able to maintain your “patent pending” status for a 12 month period of time. Before that 12 month period ends, you will have to file a non-provisional patent application if you are certain that you want to obtain patent protection for your invention.
If you plan to hire a patent attorney, you can expect to pay a minimum of $2,000 just for their time alone. Filing a provisional patent application will cost $130 for small entities such as independent inventors and small businesses. If you include a few sketches of your invention (which is highly recommended) it will costs you somewhere between $100 and $125 for each page. If you are filing a provisional patent application for an electrical or mechanical device, your filing fees could go up to $3,000.
Higher Fees for Technical Inventions
Just as it is with filing a non-provisional patent application, how complex your invention is and how much technology is involved will also influence the exact cost of the provisional patent application. If, for example, you are filing a provisional patent application for a software-related patent, your preparation costs could total to $6,000, not including the cost of illustrations or the filing fee. The reason the provisional patent application costs are more software-related inventions is because substantially more information needs to be provided. Important factors including the system’s architecture as well as routines, sub-routines, and algorithms must be included in the patent application.
Finally, another factor that will affect the final cost of either a provisional patent application, non-provisional patent application, or both is how many published applications or previous patents related to your invention already exist. The more prior that is found or other inventions that already exist that are similar to your invention, the higher the cost of your patent application will be.
If you need help figuring out the cost of a patent or the cost of hiring a patent agent or attorney, 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.