Patent Process

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Patent?

By November 30, 2020
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Applying for a patent is an exciting and complicated process, and it can also be a costly process. How much does it actually cost to get a patent? The cost to get a patent will depend on a variety of factors.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Patent?

In general terms, how much it costs to get a patent will often depend on the complexity of your invention, the number of claims you are seeking, the size of your business submitting the patent application, and how much you engage a patent attorney. 

Overall Typical Cost for a Patent

Generally, the typical cost for a patent will range between $1,000 and $20,000. This range of thousands of dollars hinges on how much you decide to do yourself, how many claims you want to claim within your patent application, and the extent to which you utilize a patent attorney. Note that the bottom of the range is only possible if you entirely manage the process yourself and only need to pay Patent Office fees.

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The cost will also depend on the type of patent you are looking to get. There are different types of patents. The two most common are utility patents and design patents. A utility patent protects the way something is used and works. 

A utility patent prohibits others from making, using, or selling the instruction or functionality of your idea without your authorization. A design patent, on the other hand, protects the way something looks. This includes the shape and configuration of a product, as well as the surface ornamentation that is applied. In some cases, a design patent can protect both the shape and the ornamentation. 

Patent Application Filing Fees

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the government agency that administers patents and makes patent determinations. It has established a set of fees required when submitting your patent application. These USPTO filing fees depend greatly on the size of your business. They also depend on the number of claims you have submitted within your application. 

The Patent Office classifies businesses and other entities applying for patents in three categories: micro entity, small entity, and regular entity. The USPTO filing fees vary depending on which entity yours falls into. 

Types of Entities

A micro-entity may have a maximum qualifying gross income of $206,109, and has previously filed no more than 4 utility (non-provisional) patent applications to be eligible to receive the micro entity discount rate. 

A small entity has a more complicated qualification process under current patent law. A small business has the following two requirements:

  1. It is either:
    • A nonprofit organization; OR
    • Does not, together with all affiliates, have 500 or more employees; and
  2. Has not assigned, licensed, or otherwise conveyed an interest in the invention to a non-small entity.

The Patent Office has four different categories of concerns that qualify as a “small entity”: 

  1. a university;
  2. a nonprofit organization;
  3.  an individual inventor, or 
  4. a small business concern.

More information on small business classifications by the Patent Office can be found in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure

All other entities fall within the regular entity classification. This means these entities must pay the full fees outlined by the Patent Office. 

Provisional Patent Application Fees

A provisional patent application is an informal patent application. It allows you to prepare and file an application without any type of formal oath or declaration. But importantly, it reserves your filing date and grants you patent-pending status

Provisional patent application fees are less than non-provisional patent application fees. Set out below is the specific fees for provisional patent applications. 

Type of FilingMicro Entity FeeSmall Entity FeeRegular Fee
Provisional application filing fee300.00150.0075.00

Non-Provisional Patent Application Fees

A nonprovisional patent application is the formal patent application submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for your invention. Remember that this application must be filed within one year after filing your provisional patent application. Filing this application will mark your idea as patent-pending status.  

Below is a chart of the basic non-provisional patent application filing fees for the different types of patents:

Type of FilingRegular FeeSmall Entity FeeMicro Entity

Fee

Basic filing fee for utility patent320.00160.0080.00
Basic filing fee for design patent220.00110.0055.00
Basic filing fee for plant patent220.00110.0055.00

There are also additional fees for late filings that range from $15-160 depending on the size of your business. 

If you have more than 20 claims in your patent application, then you must pay between $25-100 for each additional claim, depending on the size of your business. You can see all the other potentially applicable fees on this page of the USPTO website

Patent Search Fees

As part of the patent application review process, patent searches need to be conducted by the examiner to look for prior art. Patent searches for prior art will aid the examiner in determining whether or not your invention is truly novel and thus will qualify for a patent because it will let the examiner know if others have already filed for or received a similar patent.

You should conduct your own patent search for prior art within the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s various patent databases. It is also helpful to have a patent attorney conduct patent searches within these databases. Patent attorneys are much more experienced with the databases.  Attorneys can sometimes find things you might have been unable to on your own. They can also provide you pointers for further searching on your own.

The Patent Office also charges fees for conducting its own patent searches:

Type of FilingRegular FeeSmall Entity FeeMicro Entity Fee
Utility search fee700.00350.00175.00
Design search fee 160.0080.0040.00
Plant search fee440.00220.00110.00

Patent Examination Fees

The Patent Office also will charge an examination fee for conducting its patent examinations for approval. These fees also range depending on the type of entity submitting the application. Below are the current costs for patent examinations:

Type of FilingRegular FeeSmall Entity FeeMicro Entity Fee
Utility examination fee800.00400.00200.00
Design examination fee 640.00320.00160.00
Plant examination fee660.00330.00165.00

Patent Attorney Fees

A significant part of the patent fee analysis is the cost of a patent attorney. To prepare and file your own patent can be a daunting task. Retaining a patent attorney to aid in the patent application process can be incredibly important in ultimately obtaining approval by the Patent Office. This is because patent attorneys are experienced in drafting patent applications in a way that will allow the application to have a greater likelihood of success in getting approval from the patent office. 

Patent attorneys regularly interact with the patent examiners at the Patent Office. There are typically numerous back and forth office actions and responses as your patent application is in the patent prosecution phase. 

Patent attorneys are skilled at communicating and negotiating with these patent examiners and can ensure your responses to any of the patent examiners’ questions are appropriately responded to. 

If you choose to employ an attorney during the application process, a patent attorney generally assists in the following areas:

  1. Prior art searches, analysis of the searches, and related discussions;
  2. Preparation of provisional patent application;
  3. Preparation of non-provisional patent application;
  4. Preparation of response to office actions by a patent examiner;
  5. Payment of issuance and maintenance fees; and
  6. Review and analysis of correspondence from the Patent Office and discussions related to this correspondence. 

The actual fees that a patent attorney charges for these services will vary depending on the attorney. Moreover, some attorneys will drill down into the smaller services for each of these steps, while others will charge flat rates for specific services and do not charge by the hour. Make sure to go over your patent attorney’s fee structure. 

How to Keep Patent Costs Down

There are some key ways that you can keep the costs of getting a patent down. You can pick and choose which ones you think will be the most effective in your specific circumstances, or you can try them all and cut down costs even more. 

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Complete Your Own Prep Work

First off, a great way to cut costs for getting a patent is to complete as much of the prep work up front by yourself, without attorneys or other specialists getting involved until your idea and invention is more clearly fleshed out.  This may sometimes save patent costs because less work will be required. But more often, you being clear about the invention, about your plans for the invention and your other goals will help your patent attorney to focus on the work that matters most to meeting your goals.

This means you take the time to think through your idea fully, build out a prototype of your invention, draft a business plan, conduct market research, and complete other prep work up front. Wait to engage experienced third parties until these pieces are in place, or at least until you have clarity about what is needed. 

Conduct Initial Patent Searches

Another way to cut costs for your patent application is to conduct some initial patent searching on your own. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a great video that walks through a step-by-step strategy for conducting a patent search.  

Overall, spend some time brainstorming patent search words and phrases. Then conduct searches within classes and subclasses on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. The Patent Office sorts each patent into various classes. There are about 450 classes in total. Examples of patent classes include Apparel, Cutlery, Metal Working, Sewing, and Woodworking. 

Write the First Draft of Your Patent Application

Another great way to cut down the cost to get a patent is to be the one to draft the first draft of your patent application. You are the one who knows your invention the best anyway, so it can be very helpful for a patent attorney if you are the first one to write out the process and procedure in the most clear and concise manner. 

It is also helpful to draw clear diagrams of your invention to aid in the description of your invention and the understanding of those reading it. Remember to simplify things as much as possible. While you have spent a lot of time with your invention and idea, your patent attorney, and more importantly, your patent examiner, will not know it as well as you do. 

In general, being able to clearly and quickly explain your invention and how it works will go a long way in keeping your patent costs down.