What Are Patent Pending Costs?

The cost to get patent pending status for your invention is around $1,500 without an attorney. If you hire an attorney, you can expect to pay $10,000 or more for a utility patent and $2,000 for a design patent. It's hard to determine the exact costs before you apply because all patent applications are different.

Obtaining a patent is expensive and time-consuming. Patent pending costs vary widely. This makes it difficult to predict what you'll have to pay. A lot depends on the complexity of your invention and the type of patent application you want to file. A patent attorney can review your situation and give you a better idea of how much you can expect to pay.

As soon as your patent application is submitted to the USPTO, you can write, "Patent Pending," on your product. This status typically lasts for one to three years. Once a patent is issued for your invention, you can replace the patent pending phrasing with your patent number.

When predicting your patent pending costs, keep in mind that it takes longer to prepare patent applications for complex inventions. You need to spend more money on drawings, compiling background information, and preparing files. It is also more likely to need modifications once the patent application is reviewed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This leads to more billed hours for attorneys, draftsmen, editors, and anyone else you hire to help with your patent application.

Here are some common costs incurred when filing a patent application:

  • Patent search: You should pay an attorney to search through patent databases to ensure your invention is unique and does not infringe on the patents of others. This includes searching both U.S. and foreign patents. The cost of performing a patent search is between $2,000 an $3,000 depending on the complexity of your invention.
  • Drawing fees: You must include drawings in your patent application. You should hire a draftsman so the drawings look professional and clearly show what you're trying to patent.
  • USPTO office actions: If your patent application is rejected, the USPTO sends you action items that must be completed before your application is reconsidered. It costs extra money to get all the necessary information together. You might even have to go through several rounds of rejections. A patent attorney can improve your chance of success.
  • Maintenance fees: Utility patents are issued for 20 years, but you must pay maintenance fees over the course of this lifespan. The fees occur at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years. The amounts vary depending on the type of patent you have on file. The maintenance fees get larger over time, so you can expect to pay more money at the 11.5 year mark than at the 3.5 year mark.
  • Attorney fees: These vary widely from firm to firm. When choosing an attorney, be sure to compare hourly rates. Just remember that you typically get what you pay for.
  • Application fees: You can find a complete list of current patent application fees on the USPTO.gov website. A provisional patent application is the least expensive at $130.
  • Post-filing fees: If you forget to include something in your patent application, you must pay a fee to amend the application. This is one area where an attorney can save you money because they can ensure you have everything you need on first try.
  • Publication fee: It costs about $300 to publish your patent to the USPTO website. This is above and beyond the maintenance fees and patent issuance fee.

Filing a Patent Application

One of the biggest factors that determines the cost of your patent application is the type that you decide to file. Utility patents are the most expensive. They can easily cost more than $10,000. Design patents cost about $2,000. However, this is just a starting base. You'll have to keep paying maintenance fees for the lifespan of the patent. An attorney can help you better understand what to expect in your situation.

Provisional Patent Application Costs

The cheapest way to get "Patent Pending" status is to file a provisional patent application. All that is required is a detailed description of the invention, an informal drawing, and a synopsis of how you came up with the idea. For small entities, the application fee is $130 and for large companies it is $260. If you use a patent attorney, you can expect the costs to be a bit higher, but it's still a lot less money than filing a utility patent or design patent.

Even though it does not cost much money to file a provisional patent application, it is not a replacement for one of the nonprovisional patents. A provisional patent application does not get reviewed and it is only a temporary way to get "Patent Pending" status. No actual patent is issued. The provisional patent application is simply a document to prove you were the first to come up with an idea.

A provisional patent application is only good for 12 months. By that time, you must submit either a utility patent or a design patent to maintain the "Patent Pending" status on your invention. You can save money in the long run by skipping the provisional patent application, but it is a good way to get an early filing date with the USPTO.

Nonprovisional Patent Application Costs

It costs a lot more money to file a nonprovisional patent application than a provisional one because it requires more detail and a patent is issued at the end. There are two types of nonprovisional patents — utility patents and design patents. Utility patents are the most common because they protect the way an invention works and is manufactured. Design patents simply protect the way an invention looks.

Utility patents can easily cost more than $10,000. You should plan on paying up to double that amount from start to finish through the application and issuance process. Design patents don't cost as much money. You can expect to pay $2,000 to $4,000.

Why You Should Hire a Patent Attorney

Most people end up hiring a patent attorney to help with the patent application process because it is tedious and confusing. The choice is up to you, but an attorney makes everything run more smoothly and quickly. An attorney also ensures you don't make any mistakes and include information you might not think to include on your own.

If you hire an attorney at the beginning of the patent application process, they can help you build lawsuits and file them as soon as your patent gets issued. You obtain patent pending status regardless of whether you file a provisional, utility, or design patent. However, it's important to note that patent pending status does not grant you any legally enforceable rights. You cannot sue someone for patent infringement until your patent issues.

Patent attorneys often have specialized experience in technical subjects. It's common for them to have PhD degrees in things like computers, biotechnology, and engineering. That's why they command billing rates of $200 to $400 dollars per hour. Sometimes you can find attorneys that charge a flat fee, but that's not the standard.

Hiring a Professional Patent Searcher

A professional patent searcher can find prior art patent and pending applications that are hard for you to find on your own. The USPTO offers a free patent search, but a professional patent searcher is still advisable because they can find patents where you wouldn't think to look. The cost for this service varies between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on the complexity of your invention. In some instances, a professional patent searcher may find that there is no reasonable opportunity for your patent claim and suggest you abandon the project instead of spending additional money.

Getting a Patent Without an Attorney

You don't have to hire a patent attorney before submitting a patent application. Getting a patent on your own can save you thousands of dollars on attorney fees. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time learning the process if you don't hire an attorney. Patent applications require a lot of detail and you'll spend countless hours trying to figure everything out. The USPTO has patent examiners to help you with any questions about your patent application, but an attorney can get back to you faster.

If you don't hire an attorney, there are two things you need to do before submitting your patent application:

  • Make sure that it qualifies. You can do this by searching through existing patents for similarities to your own. You need to ensure that your patent does not already exist.
  • Thoroughly describe all aspects of your invention. Don't leave anything out. Drawings and pictures are typically included with patent applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it worth the cost of hiring a patent attorney?

You can save money by filing a patent application without the help of an attorney, but it's not advisable. A patent attorney is worth the cost because they ensure your application runs smoothly and includes all the necessary information.

  • What is the cheapest way to get "Patent Pending" status?

You cannot write, "Patent Pending," on a product until you have submitted a patent application to the USPTO. A provisional patent application is the fastest way to achieve this status, but it is only a temporary solution because no patent is issued.

Steps to Filing a Patent Application

The USPTO has specific rules you must follow in your patent application. Make sure that you read them carefully and include all the required information in your patent application.

1. Describe your invention in detail.

The most important part of your patent application is the description of your invention. Keep a careful record of all aspects of your invention and modifications so you can include this information in the application.

  • If you are applying for a utility patent, the description should include everything from manufacturing processes to individual components.
  • If you are applying for a design patent, you should include pictures of your product and describe design elements that you wish to patent.

Depending on your invention, it's helpful to build a prototype of your invention and record this process. You need to sign and date each entry and provide two witnesses.

2. Check that your invention qualifies for patent protection.

Not all ideas or products qualify for a patent. You must prove how your invention is different from all previous inventions. You must also show how it works and how it is a new idea. Make sure that your invention meets all the requirements of 35 U.S. Code 112.

3. Thoroughly search the U.S. patent database

To ensure that your invention is truly unique, you need to search through the U.S. patent database for similar inventions. Sometimes you must also search foreign patents. If your search comes up blank, then you can proceed with your patent application. This is a time-consuming process and an area where a patent attorney can really help.

If you find patents that are similar to your invention, you can still file a new patent as long as your invention has significant differences or you have improved upon earlier developments.

4. Decide if the patent costs are worth the investment.

Most people only apply for a patent if they plan to use it in a business. That's because the costs can be upwards of $1,500, even without the help of an attorney. Make sure that the cost of a patent is worth the investment before you apply.

5. Prepare all application documents and submit to the USPTO.

There are three types of patent applications you can file with the USPTO — utility, design, and provisional. Each has its own requirements and is suited to different situations. When you have prepared all the necessary documents, you can submit the application to the USPTO.

Before you decide to file for a patent, make sure that you understand the costs. If you do not plan to sell a product or do anything with the patent, you should reconsider applying. Sometimes inventors only file a provisional patent application and then negotiate that an investor pays for the patent if they want to be a part of the business. You need to know what you want and how you're going to pay for it before you begin. An attorney can help you set your priorities and create a plan for your patent pending costs.

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