When it comes to the application and filing of a patent, there are several variables that affect the cost.
Depending on several factors, including complexity, subject matter, importance, and the type of patent, a patent’s final cost can range from as low as $65 to as high as $15,000 or more.
Here, we will discuss the cost of each patent type, the factors that affect the cost, and whether or not you need a trademark as well. One thing that you’ll notice throughout this article is that the true cost of applying for a patent is generally pretty affordable. It’s only when legal fees are involved that the cost becomes astronomical. Stick around till the end of the article to learn about how to avoid those costly legal fees.
The Factors That Affect the Cost of a Patent
Even though the type of patent has the greatest impact when determining the overall cost, there are other factors that can also play a significant role in determining the final price of a patent.
The general costs of the different types of patents will be mentioned later, but for now, let’s focus on the additional cost factors.
First, the type of person or size of the business applying for the patent determines the starting point for the costs. An individual will typically pay less than a business.
Second, the technology involved in an invention can impact the size and complexity of the patent application. If the invention includes a lot of nuanced technology, it will often be significantly more expensive than a patent that does not involve much tech.
Third, the opportunities for the invention in the relevant market determine its overall value. If the market is strong, the inventor will typically spend more money to ensure that the invention is well protected for commercial reasons.
Fourth, the uniqueness of your invention will determine how efficiently you can navigate the patenting process. An inventor has to make efforts to show that their invention is unique enough to earn a patent. Therefore, if your patent application is similar to other inventions, it will take longer to earn your patent, and the cost to a patent will be higher.
Fifth, the geographical reach of the patent rights can create an additional major cost. For instance, protecting an invention in several countries rather than one will cost more money.
The Types of Patent Applications
Before thinking about a patent’s costs, you should make sure you have an invention that is unique enough to earn the patent. Review as many existing patent documents as possible to make sure that your idea is original, or at least different enough from existing inventions to be patentable.
In general, the cost of filing a patent application can be separated into three steps:
- USPTO filing fees
- Attorney fees
- Drawing fees
When you think about how complex or simple an invention can be, it’s easy to understand that costs can differ. The more complex the invention, the more it will cost to patent.
When it comes to the actual US patent applications, there are four distinct types:
- Provisional Patent Application
- Non-Provisional Patent Application
- Design Patent Application
- Plant Patent Application
Let’s take a look at them.
Provisional Patent Application
To better understand the provisional patent application, imagine it as a place holder for your invention. After successfully filing and earning the provisional patent, you will have an entire year to file a corresponding non-provisional patent application (utility patent).
Even though a provisional patent does not provide any real protection, it does protect the date your intellectual property was filed, which is important because of the USPTO’s first to file rules. The provisional patent will also allow you to use the patent-pending label when disclosing or selling your invention.
Filing this patent application can cost as low as $65. However, if you work with a patent attorney, these patent applications typically cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.
Non-Provisional Patent Application
A utility patent, also known as a non-provisional patent, is the full/true patent that protects your intellectual property for as long as it’s in effect.
Filing the non-provisional patent application is usually more expensive, and costs about $430 at the lower end. This sum includes the filing, search, and examination fees, which are standard for all utility patent applications.
However, these patent applications can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $16,000 or more when you add in the legal fees. To better illustrate how and why these prices differ, here is a quick rundown of several different patent application costs with lawyer fees included:
- Simple invention (ex. coat hanger, paper clip) = $5,000 – $8,000
- Relatively simple invention (ex. umbrella, tabletop game) = $8,000 – $9,000
- Minimally complex invention (ex. camera technology, construction power tool) = $9,500 – $11,000
- Moderately complex invention (ex. smartphone, automatic lawnmower) = $11,000 – $13,000
- Relatively complex invention (ex. prosthetic material for shock-absorption) = $13,000 – $15,000
- Highly complex invention (ex. sat-nav technology) = $15,000 – $17,000
- Software inventions (ex. B2B service, AI-driven automation) = $17,000+
As you can see, the costs are highly variable, and as the complexity of the invention rises, so does the pricing. However, there are some other patent types that are also worth mentioning.
You can also opt for a design patent, which does not protect functionality or part-by-part assembly but does protect the aesthetic of your invention. These patents are most used in the apparel & fashion industry; however, they are also employed to protect the shape of medical instruments and manufactured goods.
To further explain, a fashion studio may wish to protect the design features of a handbag. In this case, it would make more sense for them to use the design patent. With the preparation, examination, filing, and legal fees, the design patent typically costs about $3,000.
If you’ve discovered and/or reproduced a new plant, you may be entitled to earn a plant patent. Once you earn the plant patent, you can prohibit others from copying, growing, using, or selling your plant.
Filing a plant patent application will cost about $310, on the low end. However, the total sum comes out to about $6,000 when you add in the legal fees.
Do I Need a Trademark as Well?
While a patent protects the content and structure of an invention, a trademark protects its name. Using a trademark can help you brand yourself, which can reduce the risks of competitors eating into your profits and provide you a selling point for possible licensees.
In several states, you have to use the trademark in a commercial setting before you register, so make sure to check with your lawyer or local state law before proceeding. Once you’ve decided upon a trademark, you can promote it with the ™ symbol and register it with the USPTO.
Once approved (10-14 months), you can use the ® symbol to show the registration.
Patent Information for You
Now that you know about the cost of a patent, you are well on your way to making sure if it’s right for you. As we mentioned above, unfortunately, legal fees often inflate the cost of earning a patent. However, if you can learn to search, draft, and file your own patent applications, you can avoid those costly legal fees. Our Patent Hacks Learning Center is designed to do just that. Check it out, and take your first step towards earning a patent today.
If you’re interested in learning more about patents to ensure you cover all of the bases before trying to secure your intellectual property, then visit our free resources page. If you have any additional questions after that, please review our FAQs page.