Product Patent Cost: Everything You Need to Know

Product patent cost depends greatly on the type of invention you have along with the type of protection you are seeking. You’ll either want to file a utility or design patent, which can be in the form of a non-provisional or a provisional patent application. Since there are other costs included in the patent process, including potential legal fees and illustration fees, you’ll want to create a list of the various fees that you could be charged during this process.

Creating a Checklist

Before you decide to apply for patent protection, you’ll want to do your homework and ensure that you have a checklist handy when going through the process. Not only will you be filing the patent application itself, but the application includes several other documents, including illustrations and other important documentation regarding your invention, its intended purpose, and marketability.

Additionally, you’ll need to fill out the fee transmittal form, which will include the filing fee, search fee, examination fee. These fees will vary based on whether you own a small business or micro entity. If filing as a micro entity, then another separate form must be completed. But how do you know if you are filing as a small business or micro entity? Generally, individual inventors and very small companies will file as a micro entity. But what is 5 to 10 people invented the product together? This is where your checklist will come into play. Write down the facts of your invention, the people involved, the elements and every part of the invention itself, as well as other important items that will be necessary when filing the application. The USPTO provides a checklist for inventors to utilize when submitting a patent application.

Non-Provisional and Provisional Patents

It is important to know the difference between a non-provisional and provisional patent application. If you are unsure whether or not to file for official patent protection, you’ll want to consider your circumstances.

You’ll benefit from a provision patent if:

  • You are still working on the final details of your invention
  • You are unsure whether or not to file for non-provisional patent protection
  • You cannot afford to file for non-provisional patent protection at that given point in time
  • You are still promoting your invention

You’ll benefit from a non-provisional patent if:

  • Your invention is complete and you are ready to share it with the world
  • You want to take your invention to the next level and market it to the public

Think of it this way: if you aren’t quite ready to make the move of filing for protection of your invention, then you’ll want to file a provisional patent application. The $65 (micro entity)/$130 (small entity) filing fee is usually the only fee associated with this patent. After filing, you will have a period of one year to expand upon your invention, promote it, and establish the product before filing for non-provisional patent protection. If, within the 1-year timeframe, you choose to move on from the invention, then you’ve only spent $65. However, if you’re ready to take it to the next level, market your invention, and obtain absolute protection of it, then you’ll file a non-provisional patent application.

You’ll pay a non-provisional filing fee of approximately $400. Once you’ve obtained protection, an additional issuing fee of $450 will be due by year 3. Additional maintenance fees will be due throughout the life of the patent, on year 7.5 and year 11.5. The fees associated with these time periods are $900 and roughly $2,000 respectively. But after this time, you won’t be responsible for any additional fees during the life of the patent, which is active for a total of 20 years. If you fail to pay the issuing and ongoing maintenance fees, your patent will become inactive and you will no longer receive the protection it deserves.

Utility vs. Design Patents

If you are unsure whether to file for a utility or design patent, just know that you can in fact apply for both. Depending on the type of invention you have, you may be eligible to apply for a patent on the design of your product as well as the utility portion of it. For example, if you invented some sort of device that can aid in back pain, the overall design of the product itself can be patented. Therefore, the shape coupled with the fabric can be patented as one piece. In addition, the machinery used in the product, i.e. pulsating mechanical pieces that are placed in the product itself, can be patented. Most products can benefit from both a design and utility patent.

Keep in mind that the design patent protects just that – the design. The utility patent, however, protects the machinery, systems, methods, or manufacturing of the product. Just as the patents themselves protect against different things, the costs of each one are also quite different. The design patent is a lot less expensive, costly roughly $400 for small businesses and only $190 for micro entities (individual inventors generally). If you choose to hire an attorney, you may pay at most $1,000 since the design patent application is incredibly simple and straightforward. On the other hand, the utility patent is much more expensive, and can cost upwards near $20,000 or more depending on the intricacies of the product as well as attorney's fees.

Since utility patent costs can vary depending on the invention and level of work involved, you’ll want to be mindful of the type of invention you have, as the costs for each one will be different:

  • A chemical utility patent will cost approximately $16,000
  • An electrical or computer-related utility patent will cost approximately $14,000
  • A mechanical utility patent will usually cost approximately $12,000

Additional fees can include claim fees. Each patent application can have three claims within it, which cost $52/claim. However, if you include more, the cost will be $220/claim for any additional claims after the third one.

Fees for Amending a Patent Application

Another fee could be fees to amend your patent application. After you submit your non-provisional utility patent application to the USPTO, it will be allocated to a patent examiner. That examiner will then run the patent search and examine the invention. While examining the invention itself, the examiner may determine that the application needs to be updated, fixed, or amended in some way or another. In that case, the examiner will return the application to you for amending. You’ll then be given a specified period of time in which to amend the application to ensure that you respond to the questions the examiner has regarding your invention. In addition to amending the application, you’ll pay an amendment fee. After paying the fee and amending the application, you’ll resubmit to the USPTO. The same examiner will then review the updated application. It is very possible that the examiner will have additional questions or seek specific supporting documentation before making a determination. If this happens, you’ll be charged a fee each and every time you are required to amend your patent application.

Other Miscellaneous Fees

You may be charged other miscellaneous fees by the USPTO, including fees for taking additional time beyond the timeframe requested to respond to the amendment or request for additional supporting documentation; a non-electronic filing fee should you choose to file a hard copy application; fees associated with a request for prioritization (if you request that your application be expedited for review); document fees for third-party submissions; amongst several others.

If you need help patenting your product or learning more about the costs associated with the process as well as your options, 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.