Patents are crucial for protecting intellectual property, particularly if you run a small startup. The last thing you want is to invest all your time, energy, and money into a project, only for an unscrupulous rival to snatch your ideas.
The patenting procedure isn’t free, though. In this post, we’ll take a look at how much a patent actually costs. Then, we’ll analyze some patent cost examples before exploring the difference between trademark and patent costs.
Cost of a Patent
You can break down the cost of obtaining a patent into three categories:
- Government filing fees
- Attorney fees
- Drawing fees
Patent applications can range from $400+ if you decide to go down the do-it-yourself route to $10,000+ if you use a lawyer. The actual amount you’ll pay depends on your status. Government filing fees for micro-businesses are $400, while those for small entities are $730 or more. If you also require professional drawings to describe your inventions, they will set you back a further $300 to $500, depending on the complexity.
Obtaining a patent isn’t a straightforward procedure. While the application process is affordable for the majority of businesses, the official requirements can be high. The law is becoming more stringent, and government agencies, such as the United States Supreme Court, The United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, are constantly adding more regulations.
To secure a patent, you must demonstrate in writing that your invention is unique and be able to prove this to the USPTO. You need to show that you’ve developed something original that other market participants are not yet using. And you must describe it in such a way that meets the various legal requirements of government agencies. Therefore, while the price of a patent application might seem relatively manageable, the likelihood of success depends entirely on the quality of the communication.
Certain types of patents may be more complicated than others. If you’ve hired a lawyer to draft your application for you, it may take them time to get up to speed with the technical aspects of your invention. Your patent could seem simple to you, but it might be complicated for a lawyer to grasp if it’s technically intricate. This may then drive up your costs, since you’ll require lengthier consultations with your lawyer.
Software patenting costs tend to be higher because of the difficulty in understanding the innovation. It may also be hard for the patent office to determine the way in which the invention is unique or original, increasing patenting fees and surcharges further.
Types of Patents and Their Costs
Because of the varying complexity of patents, they have different costs. However, there are diverse types of patents that you can apply for.
Non-Provisional Patent Application
Non-provisional patent applications protect your invention for as long as it remains in effect. Prices start from around $400 and include search, review, and examination fees. At the higher end of the price spectrum, a non-provisional application may cost over $15,000 if most tasks are handled by a lawyer. However, you should keep in mind that how much you pay depends primarily on the complexity of the invention. Attorney patent prices are significantly lower for simple inventions compared to complicated or software-based ones.
Provisional Patent Application
Provisional patent applications are popular among organizations that want to begin protecting their intellectual property immediately but don’t have time to file a non-provisional patent application. Allowing time for the non-provisional patent application to go through, provisional patents protect firms for 12 months against IP theft.
As you might expect, filing for a provisional patent can be significantly cheaper than a non-provisional patent since it is temporary. You can pay as little as $65 in filing fees if you do it yourself, but more realistically, $5,000-$10,000 with the help of a lawyer.
Design patents protect your product’s unique appearance, for instance, the particular shape of a plastic bottle, earplug, or medical product. And because they only involve the evaluation of shape, prices tend to be much lower. Therefore, you can expect to pay $2,500-$3,000, including a $140 examination fee.
Design patents are essential in the fashion industry. A designer bag might not represent anything new in the technical sense, but the new design could be critical for the fashion house’s competitive advantage. Most importantly, a design patent can prevent rivals from creating copycat products.
Lastly, plant patents prevent anyone else from utilizing a particular plant for commercial gain. These patents mainly affect plant hybridization and genetic modifications, as plants found in their natural state cannot be patented.
Application costs for plant patents range from $360 to $720, whereas $170 of this cost covers examination fees. Total costs, including legal fees, are $4,600-$7,600.
What Factors Affect the Cost of Filing a Patent?
So far, we’ve discussed patent costs in terms of averages. However, the amount that you actually pay will be calculated on the basis of various factors to do with the patent itself.
- Your product is similar to others. If your product is completely original and new, it is usually quite straightforward to determine its patentability. However, if you are adding a product to a saturated market, the patenting price rises. It is more difficult to demonstrate that the invention is unique and, therefore, requires more labor.
- You want to protect your product in several countries. Protecting your intellectual property in the US is relatively clear-cut. However, you will need to pay additional fees to patent examiners in other countries if you want to protect it internationally.
- You see a big market opportunity. In many cases, the greater the profits that an invention will bring, the more money it’s worth spending patenting an invention.
- Your invention involves technology. As you might expect, a complex mechanical patent costs significantly more than a simple one. It takes time for examiners and lawyers to understand how it works and assess it accordingly.
- You operate a large business. Lastly, the price of a patent will go up if you run a large business. Individuals, micro-entities, and small businesses pay the least.
Patent Cost Examples
Let’s take a look at some examples of how much you are likely to pay for a patent, from the simplest to the most complex:
Licensing a patent cost
|Patent Attorney Cost
|Paper clip, bowl, wallet, packaging, tea cozy
|Fanny pack, children’s toy, drinks flask, dog harness
|Handheld tools, MP3 player, disposable camera
|Solar panel pack, pop-up tent
|Prosthetic limbs, telecommunications equipment, medical scanners
|Machine learning systems, automated control systems, networking software
|More than $16,000
These figures are just an estimate and should be adjusted for each case. However, as you can see, the main cost is definitely legal fees. Other costs only make up around 20%-30% of the total price.
Here is an example of how your costs might break down for a consumer electronics product, such as a bicycle GPS or Bluetooth headset:
Patenting a consumer electronics product – example
|Patent search with attorney opinion
|Provisional patent preparation and filing
|USPTO provisional filing fee
|Non-provisional patent filing
|USPTO non-provisional filing fee
As you can see, the costs can add up quickly. Even a relatively simple invention patent can reach five figures or more. However, the cost of a patent is considerably lower than the costs that might ensue in case of not filing.
How Much Does It Cost To Appeal a Rejected Patent Application?
The USPTO won’t always accept your patent, even with the help of lawyers. However, if they reject it, you can still appeal.
Filing a written response costs $2,000-$5,000, and if you want to speak to a USPTO representative face to face, you may have to spend thousands more dollars. There is no guarantee that your appeal will be successful, either, so it’s advisable to speak to an attorney before you proceed.
Patent Maintenance Fees
Non-provisional patents are for life, and you don’t need to pay recurring fees to keep them active. However, the USPTO requires inventors to pay periodic maintenance fees for provisional patents.
This breaks down as $980 after three and a half years, $2,480 after seven and a half years, and $4,110 after 11 years. Using this method, some inventors may be able to protect their intellectual property for the product’s entire life if obtaining a full non-provisional patent is not possible.
During this time, you can also make amendments to your invention. These cost $2,200-$3,500 and may help advance your non-provisional application in the sense that the alterations might be sufficient to convince the USPTO that your patent is one of a kind.
Furthermore, inventors of any type of patent (including non-provisional) may also be subject to ongoing costs. These include financial services administration fees, post-issuance fees, and extension-of-time fees, which let patents run for longer.
Trademark vs. Patent Cost
While trademark filing fees are roughly the same as patent fees – between $225 and $600 – legal costs vary significantly. In general, legal fees will be substantially lower (and sometimes non-existent) when filing for a trademark. It is solely in cases when applicants are challenging the trademark of another brand that they may incur considerable legal fees.
Asking the question “how much does it cost to patent a name?” doesn’t make a lot of sense, as trademarks, which are not inventions, cannot become patents.
Should You Use a Patent Cost Calculator?
It’s not always clear what the ultimate cost of a patent will be. However, you might be able to get an estimate using a patent cost calculator. It will help evaluate the complexity of the patent and then give you a ballpark figure based on current fees and cost estimates.
Calculators, though, are not a substitute for a professional opinion. Experienced attorneys should be able to tell you both the likely legal and total cost of an invention after reviewing your ideas.
So, how much does a patent cost? The price you pay for a patent depends heavily on the type of invention you want to launch on the market and the type of patent you obtain. Other factors that can lead to higher costs include things like the number of similar patents already registered and the size of your business. As a general rule, you should expect to pay a minimum of $5,000 with legal assistance.