What is the Average Cost of a Patent?

What is the average cost of a patent? Domestically, getting a patent for an invention can cost $10,000 or more. International patents are the most expensive, with costs running up to $100,000 or more. When considering costs, there are three main categories of expenses for a typical patent application:

  • Attorney fees
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark filing fees
  • Drawing fees

The most significant expense is the attorney fees.

 The amount you spend on a patent application also depends on the opportunities available for marketing your product. Inventors often will spend more on inventions with a solid market potential to get the maximum patent protection.

Getting a patent is easier in recent years than it was five or ten years ago, but getting a patent that is worth its mettle is only getting more expensive. And as with other things in life, when it comes to patent applications, you get what you pay for.

Statistics show that nearly 97 percent of granted patents cost more to get than the revenue they ultimately produce. Regardless of that, inventors can follow some basic guidelines to get a good estimate of their costs, and then plan their budgets accordingly. But even with guidelines, it can be difficult to estimate costs, especially when figuring in the complexity of the design and the amount of technology that is required for different patents.

Since filing for a patent can be expensive and time-consuming, small companies need to be fairly selective about what patents they file for. For instance, the filing fee for a basic utility patent application is $330. This is in addition to:

When trying to foresee the cost of preparing and filing a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USTPO, it would help to begin with a discussion about what will influence those costs.

Great Invention Idea?

The type of invention and the degree of complexity is probably the single most important consideration that needs to be taken into account when applying for a patent. While inventors would like to believe that they have a relatively simple invention, which means the cost should be minimal, deep down they know that that the patent application process is almost always complex, which means that the costs are rarely minimal.

Most inventions will vary in range from relatively simple to minimally complex. Almost no invention is ever “very simple.”

A software-related invention, for example, would be considered at least highly complex. Over the past few years, the courts have started to require copious amounts of technical detail in a patent application so that an inventor can obtain, and maintain, a software patent.

In order to actually receive a patent you will need to file a non-provisional patent application. Without knowing about your invention from top to bottom, it can be quite difficult to get a reliable estimate for the costs associated with filing a non-provisional patent application.

For small entities, which is how most independent inventors and small businesses are characterized, the minimum for government filing fees will be $730. For micro entities the fees would be a minimum of $400. Filing fees will go higher based on how many claims an application contains. Professional drawings, which, though not stated outright, are really required to get serious consideration, will add another $300 to $500, at least, in order to have a complete set of drawings.

A strong patent application can end up costing you $20,000 or more. Getting a strong patent requires filing more claims and paying more attention to providing an adequate technical disclosure. It also requires describing as many alternatives, options, and variations for your inventions on your patent application as you can.

A patent search, which also comes at a cost, is absolutely critical because it will give you an idea about whether it even makes sense to pursue a patent in the first place. Without doing a patent search, you are describing your invention in a vacuum and basically throwing money down the drain. Paying for a patent search with a written analysis by a patent attorney is the best money that an inventor can spend in the entire patent application process.

From the patent search straight up through the actual filing for a provisional, and/or non-provisional, patent, the costs for the entire process can easily reach $20,000 or more. This is an estimate for a high-quality application, intended to obtain strong patent protection. There are at least $5,000 to $7,000 in additional post-filing fees as well.

Costs associated with applying for a patent are only a part of the total expenses. Inventors must also consider:

  • Revision fees,
  • Prosecuting fees,
  • Issuing fees, and
  • Maintenance fees, often at additional costs of $5,000 to $7,000

You Get What You Pay For

In order to file a strong patent application, one that will provide meaningful protection for its inventor and invention, it is necessary to seek the help of a patent attorney, or other patent agent. Unlike other kinds of attorneys, patent attorneys often have technical degrees and a legal education. In fields such as computers or biotechnology, patent attorneys often will have a PhD or other cutting-edge technical training.

Patent lawyers frequently manage a team of specialists: illustrators to create figures, technicians with skill in the field, and other professionals that complete the filings. All of this rings up the register, and quickly. Although hiring an attorney to help you file for a patent can ensure that you are filing a strong, informative application that is likely to be approved and will provide good protection for an invention, it is also what can make the costs associated with filing a patent application very expensive.

For example, every response a lawyer sends to the patent office can cost over a thousand dollars, and the patent office can reject it several times. You may even have to appeal the decision on your application to the patent office internal review board or to federal courts which costs even more money.

Doing it Yourself

If you want to get the greatest possible patent and still save money, then you can do part of the work for yourself. A good way to start is by conducting a patent search.

You can search academic papers, patents, and websites on Google to discover what other authors, inventors, and companies are doing. By using social networks you can reach out to those in a similar field that you are in field to discuss how each other is advancing their application.

You may also be able to draft your own application for the patent by finding a patent that’s similar to your invention and then using it as a template. Making your own drawings, describing the novel aspects of your invention, and writing your own claims can lower costs significantly when you are ready to bring the draft of your patent application to a patent attorney.

You should look for another patent attorney if the one you approach is not willing to forgive the fees he charges for efforts you have already made.

Other Types of Patents

If you aren’t prepared to invest in a patent but would like to defend your rights, you should file a provisional patent.

Inventors in the U.S. can submit a draft of their application for a patent, and within 12 months of filing, can adapt it to a complete utility application. Utility patents protect specific kinds of things, such as machines, methods, or systems.

Applications for a provisional patent have less formalities so they aren’t as expensive to draft, though they still need to have enough information to demonstrate that you fully thought through your invention and have done sufficient work to make it work.

Post-Allowance and Issuance Fees

Once a patent application is approved, the filer must pay an issue fee to the United States Patent and Trademark Office before their patent will be granted. A utility patent issue fee, with the publication fee included, is $2,070 for a large entity and $1,185 for a small entity. Patent maintenance fees, listed below, also are due at 3-1/2 years, 7-1/2 years, and 11-1/2 years after they are issued.

Large entity maintenance fees are:

  • $1,150 at 3-1/2 years,
  • $2,900 at 7-1/2 years, and
  • $4,810 at 11-1/2 years

Small entity maintenance fees are:

  • $575 at 3-1/2 years,
  • $1,450 at 7-1/2 years, and
  • $2,405 at 11-1/2 years

The above fees are required and must be paid to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

If you need help with completing and filing a patent application, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top five percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and have an average of 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.