If you are considering applying for a patent, the application process can seem murky and confusing. A key question many inventors have is - how much will it cost?
What factors into patent costs?
The cost of to obtain a patent is quite variable, and is based on a number of factors. The costs fall into two main categories, government fees and attorney's fees.
Some of the variables that affect the cost include:
- Type of patent application: Utility and design patents differ in cost (and uses).
- Provisional, or not: A first US patent filing can be a provisional application.
- Complexity of the invention: More complex inventions require more work to prepare.
- Size of the applicant: Larger businesses pay higher government fees.
- Geography of protection: Attempting to patent in other countries can quickly multiply costs.
- Number of claims: More claims take longer to prepare and can increase government fees.
- Time to approval: Costs can increase if it takes longer to get to approval.
When do the costs occur?
You can expect to spend, very roughly, about half the cost of obtaining a patent toward the beginning of the process, and the rest over the 1-2 years it takes to, hopefully, get your patent approved.
Early expenses include:
- Patent search
- Preparation of drawings
- Preparing the patent application for filing
- Patent filing fees
Expenses after filing include, among others:
- Responding to examiner reports (or 'office actions')
- Late fees, if needed
- Maintenance fees, after a patent is approved
It's not unusual for the above costs, over the average 2 years to get a US Patent approved, to add up to ten to fifteen thousand dollars. Filing in other countries can quickly add to costs.
Why is it so expensive? Unfortunately, the patent process is complex and challenging to navigate, which drives much of the expense. But the end result, if you're able to get your patent granted, can be an extremely valuable asset. A patent attorney can help you navigate through the process, and work with you to manage the costs.