How Much Does A Patent Cost?
$7,200 – $11,400
The average cost to patent an idea using an attorney is between $7,200 to $11,400 with overall prices ranging from $900 if you file yourself, up to $16,900 depending on the complexity of the invention. Get free estimates from patent attorneys near you.
To obtain a patent, you could pay as little as $900 if you take the "do-it-yourself" approach, or an average of $7,200 to $11,400 if you seek help from a patent attorney. The final cost to patent an idea will depend on the complexity of the invention and the type of patent that's required.
Obtaining a patent can help you protect your invention, ensuring that others cannot use, make, or sell your product without first getting your permission.
|National Average Cost||$8,800|
|Average Range||$7,200 to $11,400|
Table of Contents
Average Cost To Patent An Idea
The average cost to patent an idea ranges from $5,000 to $16,000+ depending on how simple or complex your invention is. An extremely simple design such as a paper clip typically costs $5,000 to $7,000 to patent, whereas a highly complex invention such as software or satellite technologies runs $14,000 to $16,000+.
|Type of Invention||Examples||Attorney Fees & Filing|
|Extremely Simple||Paper clip, diapers, electric switch||$5,000 – $7,000|
|Relatively Simple||Umbrella, board game, toothbrush, flashlight||$6,000 – $8,000|
|Minimally Complex||Camera, power tool||$8,000 – $10,000|
|Moderately Complex||Riding lawn mower, cell phone, RFID devices||$10,000 – $12,000|
|Relatively Complex||Shock-absorbing prosthetic device||$12,000 – $14,000|
|Highly Complex||Satellite technologies, MRI scanner||$14,000 – $16,000|
|Software||Business methods and programs, automated systems||$16,000+|
Cost to File a Patent Application
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the basic cost to file a patent application is $300. However, if you are a small entity, the price is $150, and the micro entity fee (for an individual) is just $75.
The main distinction between these costs is whether or not you take the "do-it-yourself" approach or seek help from a patent attorney. Of course, each scenario is unique in terms of the steps involved. Here is a timeline of every step involved if you decide to hire an attorney to help:
|Patent Search||$800 – $3,000|
|Provisional Patent Application Filing||$1,000 – $3,500|
|Utility Patent Application||$5,000 – $9,000|
|Utility Patent USPTO Filing + Search + Examination||$1,000|
|Illustrations for Utility Patent Application||$400|
|Total||$8,200 – $16,900|
Patent Search Cost
Before your application is prepared and sent to the USPTO, you can expect to pay anywhere between $800 and $3,000+ for professional attorney patent searches. If you would like to save money, you can conduct this search on your own; just make sure you take all of the necessary steps.
|USPTO Search Fees||$150 – $650|
|USPTO Examination Fees||$150 – $600|
|Professional Attorney Search||$800 – $3,000|
The same is true for when it comes time to draft your application. To do so, conduct some research so that you have a more thorough understanding of the process. Next, find a patent that is similar to yours so that you can use it as a template.
Using the template as a guide, be sure to include your drawings, features, phrases, and claims. Once you're done, bring everything you have to your lawyer. While you will still need to pay for his/her time, you'll significantly reduce the final cost.
Patent Attorney Cost
When you hire an attorney to prepare a new patent application, you can expect to pay between $3,000 and $5,000 on average plus the USPTO fees. Most experienced lawyers will charge between $200 and $400 per hour.
Unlike a family lawyer, for instance, patent lawyers typically undergo specific legal training and hold a technical degree. In fact, when a patent attorney specialized in industries such as biotechnology or other high technology fields, often have a Ph.D.
When dealing with complex cases, patent lawyers may also manage a team of experts, including illustrators, technicians, and paraprofessionals. In these cases, the final cost of a patent can be fairly expensive.
When paying a lawyer fee in regards to a patent, the rate tends to include:
- A professional patent search of the USPTO database which will help you determine whether or not a similar patent exists and what that means for your invention.
- The actual drafting of the patent application itself. When a lawyer prepares your application, this will help ensure that all necessary information is included and that formatting requirements are met.
- Any negotiating with the USPTO. The majority of patent applications involve complicated steps and measures that may require your patent lawyer's expertise to clarify. If your application is initially rejected, your lawyer will also defend your invention. Depending on the number of rejections and whether or not an appeal is involved, this can drive up the final cost.
Patent Costs By Type
The type of patent you apply for will also impact the cost. For example, a provisional patent can cost up to $3,000, whereas a utility patent can cost up to $15,000 or more. Each type of patent is best suited for varying scenarios.
|Provisional Patent||$1,500 – $3,500|
|Utility Patent||$5,000 – $15,000|
|Design Patent||$2,000 – $3,500|
|Plant Patent||$4,500 – $8,000|
- A utility patent is ideal when you want to protect a tangible item or product. This is the most expensive type of patent, costing between $5,000 and $15,000+.
- A design patent is the best choice when you want to protect the aesthetics or design of an item based on its appearance and function. In this case, expect to pay an average of $3,000.
- Being the least expensive, you should seek a provisional patent when you are still developing your invention. This will provide you with patent-pending status as you make progress and prepare your nonprovisional patent application. This type of patent costs an average of $2,000.
- A plant patent is relatively unique in that it protects inventors of new plant types which are reproduced under specific conditions. Depending on your invention and the processes involved, expect to pay between $4,000 and $8,000 for this type of patent.
Provisional Patent Cost
A provisional patent is critical when you want to protect your rights but are not yet ready to invest in a patent. Overall, you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,500 with $70 to $300 going towards USPTO filing fees and $1,000 to $3,500+ for attorney fees.
Provisional patents require that you have enough information to prove that your invention is well thought out and that enough work has been completed to ensure that the invention works.
Utility Patent Cost
A basic utility patent, also called a non-provisional patent, will cost between $5,000 and $15,000 to file. USPTO filing fees are $330, the patent search fee is around $540, plus a $220 examination fee, driving up the total cost to over $1,000, not including attorney fees. Once you file a provisional patent application, you have one year to register for a utility patent.
After three years, you'll also be required to pay maintenance fees which are currently $980. However, the amount you spend will depend on your patent and entity structure. For example, maintenance fees can cost as little as $400 or as much as $7,500.
- $980 after 3 1/2 years
- $2,480 after 7 1/2 years
- $4,110 after 11 years
While working with an attorney to obtain a utility patent, expect to pay between $3,000 and $10,000+. It's highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a lawyer, especially when your invention is somewhat complicated.
Although lawyer fees account for the majority of a utility patent's cost, this is an essential step in regards to the longevity of your invention -- you'll want to ensure that everything is completed in a manner that is accurate and legally binding.
Design Patent Cost
A design patent protects the appearance of an invention, particularly in regards to manufactured items, fashionable goods, and the shape of devices; especially medical devices. Expect to pay an average of $2,000 to $3,500 for a design patent, including the examination fee and all lawyer fees.
For a design patent, the USPTO filing fees are between $500 and $200, in addition to search fees that cost between $40 and $160, an average examination fee of $150. In this case, a patent lawyer tends to cost between $1,000 and $3,000.
Depending on your invention, it may qualify for both a design and a utility patent. It's important to discuss your invention with your lawyer, as a design patent can be limited, whereas a utility patent is broader, increasing overall protection.
Plant Patent Cost
To obtain a plant patent you can expect to pay between $4,000 and $8,000, which applies to newly-invented plant types. These patents do not cover bacteria, and some plants do not apply, so make sure you understand what qualifies and what doesn't.
The quoted cost above includes patent attorney fees, as well as the filing fee (costing between $50 and $200), as well as the examination fees ($150 to $650), and the search fees ($100 to $420).
While this type of patent is rare, with less than 1,200 applications submitted each year, this is an appropriate type of patent if you're a horticulturist who has made a unique discovery.
International Patent Costs
As you'd expect, protecting your invention on an international scale is the most expensive route. In fact, this type of patent can cost up to $100,000 or more. This type of patent is filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Pros and Cons of Patents
When you have an invention that's worth protecting, the advantages most often outweigh the cons.
Just some of the advantages associated with this process include but are not limited to:
- An edge that your competitors won't have, as you will be legally protected in regards to the design and function of your invention. Since you will be able to license your invention, this can also lead to higher revenue.
- An increased level of security, as this investment will prevent others from stealing your unique idea. Once you obtain your patent, your invention becomes your intellectual property, motivating you to push your business towards long-term success.
- Greater credibility, helping you strengthen your brand in a competitive market. This is particularly important in regards to your business value, especially if you plan to sell your idea in the future.
In comparison, the disadvantages to consider include:
- A relatively lengthy and often complicated application process that for some, lasts years.
- The risk associated with total transparency. When you file a patent, you are required to highlight every detail of your invention. This is also why having legal support is beneficial -- especially if you ever need to defend your patent.
- Maintenance fees that are required three times throughout a patent's life. This drives up the final cost.
- The fact that coverage is limited to that specific product in regards to its design and/function.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a poor man's patent?
While this is an interesting theory, it is no longer valid. If you hear about a poor man's patent, this refers to the process of drafting a document that outlines your invention.
The idea is that upon sealing and mailing the document to yourself, you could show a date based on the postmark. This would confirm the time in which your invention was first in your possession.
What is the cheapest way to get a patent?
Of course, the cheapest way to obtain a patent is to complete this process yourself. To do so, you should take critical steps.
- Keep clear, detailed records. It's recommended that you record every step involved in the process of your invention, filling notebooks that are dedicated to your idea.
- Before you begin the process itself, make sure that your invention qualifies for a patent. For an invention to be patentable, it must be statutory, new, useful, and non-obvious.
- Explore the demand for your invention in terms of its commercial potential. There's no point in spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a patent if the marketplace won't respond.
- Conduct a thorough patent search to ensure that you are not impeding on a patent that has already been issued.
- Prepare your application and file with the USPTO. Take your time with this step, as you'll want to ensure that everything is filled out and filed correctly.
What is the average cost to obtain a patent?
If you're a small entity, the filing fee will cost $130 on average. Depending on the type of patent you seek, that will dictate the final cost. For example, with legal support, you can prepare and file a high-quality provisional patent application for an average of $2,500.
What rights does a patent owner have?
As a patent owner, you have specific rights about your invention, which include:
- The right to license your patent to third-parties and in turn, collect royalties
- The right to sell your patent and invention in general
- The right to sue those who infringe on your patent
- The right to manufacture and sell products covered by the patent
Why should I use a patent lawyer?
By improperly filling out your application or by missing any critical information can hurt your chances for patent approval. Most patent attorneys have advanced technical degrees that allow them to understand your invention in detail. While an attorney will drastically increase your final cost, they can significantly help during the application process.
How can I cut down the costs on my legal bills?
One method is to research and fill out a patent application on your own, then request an attorney to review it in detail before sending it off to the USPTO. Also, you could start the patent search process online on your own and potentially save a couple of thousand dollars. The further you get in the process on your own, the more of a discount the attorneys may offer.
Should I register a provisional patent application first?
Many inventors opt to file a provisional patent because it gives you an extra year to get your final paperwork in order. During this period you can further develop your invention, prepare the drawings, and do additional market research.
Should I get a trademark too?
A trademark protects a name or a logo, while a patent protects an idea or invention. Registering a trademark adds a layer of protection for your brand and limits competitors affecting your profits in the long run. Once you register your trademark with the USPTO, you can use the ™ symbol, and once approved 10 to 14 months later, you can use the ® symbol.
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