Patent Attorney Fees: Everything You Need to Know
Both the attorney’s professional experience and their geographical location will determine how much those fees will cost.8 min read
Patent Attorney Fees
Patent attorney fees describe the cost you will pay a patent attorney or patent agent to help you navigate the legalities of securing a patent for your invention. Both the attorney’s professional experience and their geographical location will determine how much those fees will cost.
Survey data shows that since 2001, the national average has stayed somewhere between $250 and $275 per hour, although that seems to be a low estimate. In more rural or suburban areas, securing a high quality patent attorney could cost you anywhere from $275 to $400 an hour. If you live in a large city, you can expect those hourly costs to be anywhere from $400 to over $800 an hour.
Outside of major metropolitan areas like New York City, working with a patent attorney comes with significantly fewer business expenses. Therefore, if you live in an area outside of a bustling city, you could reasonably find a partner to work with on your invention for many years without paying exorbitant fees. Be wary of anyone who offers you exceptionally low fees. These patent attorneys generally are less experienced or will not provide you with the highest quality work.
It is hard to determine how many attorney hours you will pay for without knowing specific details about your invention. To know whether or not working with a patent attorney is the route you should go down, you should do a patent search. Although you can do this on your own, it may be more worth your time to invest in a professional patent search. This can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
A patent attorney can help you conduct this patent search and they will often outsource the patent search to other law firms that specialize in this process. Get a price quote from the patent attorney before agreeing to a patent search, but be aware that the patent search price is fixed and cannot be negotiated.
If you aren’t sure of whether or not you want to work with a patent attorney and instead have questions about the search, a consultation may be more in line with your patents needs. This can cost anywhere from $250 to $500. Once you have received a consultation or a patentability opinion for a patent attorney, it is ultimately up to you or the person who invented the design to decide if working with a patent attorney is the right idea.
Many patent attorneys would strongly recommend that first-time clients or new inventors start off with a patent search before doing anything else with a patent attorney. This allows the attorney to learn everything they need to know about the invention. A patent search is highly advantageous because it may help you realize that moving forward with a patent application might not be the right decision. And if a patent application is the right decision, the patent application will be even better because you will have a clearer sense of what lies ahead.
Obtaining a Patent Cost
Pinpointing an exact price quote on the cost of a utility patent in the US is difficult because much of the cost relies on the technology involved. “It depends” is not the answer that inventors what to hear, but as a general rule of thumb remember that you get what you pay for and that can be applied to patent applications.
One of the biggest influencers of cost is the complexity and technicality of the invention. Your invention may be considered anything from simply to somewhat intricate. If you do decide to go forward with a patent, you will need to fill out and submit a non-provisional patent application.
The government filing fees for this application total to at least $730 for small entities, the category that the majority of independent inventors fall under. Micro entities are required to pay a minimum fee of $400. These should be considered very general estimates. In addition to government filing fees, attorney’s fees could exceed $15,000. The intricacy of the invention and the type of patent protection will influence the cost of your patent attorney fees. What you plan to do with the patent will also affect the amount of money you spend on your patent application.
It has already been stated above, but it is worth mentioning again that a patent search in undeniably one of the most important initial steps to take since it will determine if perusal of a patent is a good idea. A patent search gives you a significantly higher level of confidence about whether or not a patent application is the right move.
One way to reduce your patent costs is by filing a provisional patent application in the beginning of your patent perusal process. A provisional patent application, like a non-provisional patent application, will require that you include all details about your invention. However, the appeal of the provisional patent application is that you don’t need the same number of formalities involved in a non-provisional patent application, thus cutting down on time and patent application expenses. A provisional patent application is usually pursed by inventors who believe that they have made particular advances in their work that they wish to protect while they continue to refine their work.
Working with a patent attorney on completing and submitting a provisional patent application generally costs a minimum of $2,000 in attorney fees. You can also expect to pay a $130 filing fee if you are a small entity. Drawings are usually $100 to $125 for each page. If you seek to patent something like an electrical device, you should expect a high quality provisional patent application to cost you up to $3,000. A provisional patent application for any kind of software comes with higher fees because there is more complex information associated with these applications.
Another major factor that will affect your price quote is the number of published applications of patents that already exist and are similar to your invention. Just to give you a very broad example of what you could expect to pay when attempting to file an application, take a look at the below example:
- A professional patent search along with a written attorney opinion: $2,500 to $3,000
- Complete preparation and filing of a provisional patent application: $6,000
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office filing fee for a provisional patent application: $130 (for small entities)
- The non-provisional patent application (based off of provisional filing): $10,000 to $12,000
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office filing fee for the non-provisional patent application: $800 to $1,250 (for small entities)
- Any professional drawings that need to accompany a non-provisional patent application: $500
Non-provisional patent application total filing cost: $19,930 to $22,800 (this figure would be $130 less if you don’t filing a provisional patent application)
Upon reviewing this example, it is easy to see that the costs of obtaining a patent can add up quickly. It is also important to keep in mind that after you file a patent application there will be additional expenses. For example, there will be fees for the Patent Examiner examining the application after it has been filed.
Because the cost of obtaining a patent is so high, many inventors and small businesses either give up on the idea entirely, attempt to go through the patent application process without legal help, or turn to deep-discount providers. This isn’t a great idea since these providers generally are not patent agents or patent attorneys.
Live by the Saying “You Get What You Pay For” When You Pursue a Patent
Filing a patent application is actually just a small part of the overall patent application process and one of the smaller expenses. The governmental filing fees only costs a few hundred dollars for small entities such as a small business. The cost of filing is even less for independent inventors (a quarter of the normal fee).
Normally, when you hear anyone talking about getting a patent they are referring to a utility patent. Most patent attorneys do not do their work alone. They manage a team of specialized experts including professional illustrators to draw up sketches and figures, paraprofessionals to confirm the filing is complete, and expert technicians who can provide information on particular fields. Because of this, the cost to obtain a utility patent becomes quite expense very quickly. Lastly, after your patent application has been prepared and completely filled, you might have to hire a lawyer who will handle negotiations with the patent office for you.
The Alternative Method of Filing a Patent Application: Do it Yourself
If hiring a patent attorney is not something you can do with your budget, you could prepare and file your patent application on your own. Keep in mind that though this is the least expensive route, it will take you an incredible amount of time and energy to complete. You also won’t have the advantage of filing a patent application that was prepared by an expert legal professional who knows how to make a patent application looks its best. But as far as saving money goes, filing your patent on your own is the way to go. To start this process on your own, you definitely want to begin with a patent search. From there, you will need to draw up your patent application. Review recent patents that are related to your product or idea and use a related patent as your template. Lastly, create your own illustrations, come up with phrases that best describe the unique or novel components of your product or idea, and write up your own claims. When it is done, bring your patent application to your patent attorney or agent for review.
Other Kinds of Patents
The best thing an applicant could do when they have an invention that they want to protect but they aren’t ready to fully pursue a patent is to file a provisional patent application. This will allow you to quickly protect your rights and obtain a “patent pending” status. When you file a provisional patent application, you are not required to include the same number of formalities that you must include in a non-provisional patent application. This means the provisional patent application will be significantly less expensive for you. Although the preparing process for a provisional patent application is not as complex, you do still need to provide a detailed description of your idea or product and prove you have done enough preparation to show that the invention works (even if you still plan to make modifications).
If you want to patent a system, method, or machine, you need to pursue a utility patent. If you want to protect something aesthetically like a design or pattern, you need to obtain a design patent. Design patents are much shorter than utility patents. This application only requires a few sketches and some pages. Though this application is shorter, it costs roughly the same to file as a utility patent.
In closing, the amount of time, effort, and money you put into your patent application will directly affect the quality and protection of your patent. If you want strong protection for your patent, you should plan to invest the amount of money required to do so. Again, although doing a patent application on your own will save you thousands of dollars, recruiting the legal services of a patent agent or patent attorney guarantees a better patent application and in turn better patent protection.
Need additional information related to patent attorney fees or the general patent application process? Don’t hesitate to 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.