What Makes Patents so Expensive?
To obtain a patent on your invention, you must file a patent application. A patent application is a complex legal document that requires a great deal of attorney time to prepare. The application must fully disclose the invention, include figures that illustrate your invention, and must particularly describe your invention so that others may build or implement your invention without undue experimentation. In addition, your patent application must contain “claims” that define the scope of your invention. In order to draft the application, your patent attorney must fully understand your invention, what others have done in the same area, and how your invention improves on these prior approaches. This is usually accomplished through a patentability search--see Bitlaw's Guidance on "When should you conduct a patent search?" for more information. In addition, Bitlaw provides a legal description on the content of Patent Applications.
Cost of a Utility Patent
Cost for the Utility Patent Application
As a result of this complexity, most patent applications cost between $8,000 and $15,000 to draft. Applications for simple mechanical inventions are usually between $8,000 and $10,000, while medical device and software inventions generally cost between $12,000 and $14,000. Particularly complex applications can cost $20,000 or more. To file a patent application, you will also need to pay the government filing fee. For small entities (individuals and companies having fewer than five hundred employees--See MPEP 509.02 for a definitive definition of a "small entity"), the filing costs are currently around $800.
Provisional Applications: If you choose to file a provisional patent application (see Bitlaw's Guidance on Should you file a provisional patent application?) before filing the non-provisional, the total cost for the patent application might not decrease, and in fact could become greater. A provisional application that was completely drafted and filed by the inventors will usually add about $200 to the cost of the entire process. If you hire a patent attorney to spend some time reviewing or editing your patent application, you should expect to spend $2,000 to $3,000 for the editing time. While you will likely recoup much of this expense when the non-provisional application is drafted, it is unlikely that the total cost will be recovered.
Costs after Filing Your Patent Application
Even after filing your patent application, there will be more expenses ahead. These expenses are incurred only after the patent has been reviewed by the U.S. Patent Office, which generally occurs about eighteen months after the patent application is filed. The vast majority of patent applications receive a rejection from the Patent Office when they are first reviewed. The cost to respond to these rejections can vary depending on the circumstances, but in most cases, the cost to respond to a rejection will be between $3,500 and $4,500. The typically patent application will receive between one and three rejections before the Patent Office allows the application. Once allowed, you will be required to pay an issue fee of about $800 (for small entities). Adding it all up, the costs to draft the application and get the application allowed at the patent office can range from about $10,000 to $25,000 or more, but you should budget between $15,000 and $20,000 before a patent issues on your invention. Also, please remember that there is no guarantee that your patent will ever issue. If the Patent Office is not convinced that your invention is new and non-obvious, then the patent will not issue even though you have incurred these expenses.
Costs after Your Patent Issues
After the patent issues, you have the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, and importing your invention. The patent will expire approximately twenty years after you filed your patent application. However, if you want to keep your patent enforceable during this entire period, you will need to pay maintenance fees. Three maintenance fees are due during the life of a patent, and currently $6,300 for a small entity (small entities are individuals and companies that fewer than five hundred employees--See MPEP 509.02 for a definitive definition of a "small entity").
Cost of a Design Patent Application
Design patent applications are generally much cheaper than utility patents. Bitlaw provides a legal discussion of design patents if you desire more information. In general, the total cost for drafting and filing a design patent application is about $2,000. This amount should include the fees for creating design patent drawings and for paying the government filing fees. While it may be necessary to respond to a rejection in a design patent application, the issues involved are usually much easier to resolve and are therefore less expensive to handle. You also will not have to pay any maintenance fees with a design patent.
It Generally Does Not Cost More to Use Forsgren Fisher McCalmont DeMarea Tysver
It generally costs no more to use our firm to file and prosecute your patent application than it would with any other firm. The estimates we provide above are within the average cost range for most patent attorneys (according to the biannual Economic Survey performed by the American Intellectual Property Law Association, or "AIPLA").
In fact, Forsgren Fisher McCalmont DeMarea Tysver generally provides you with more comfort about the cost of a patent application than many other firms. Before we begin drafting your patent application, we will usually provide an estimate of the cost to draft your application. We will not exceed these estimates unless we encounter an unusual situation, such as a request from the inventor to change the scope or direction of the application during the drafting process. We believe that most firms do not reduce their billings on patent applications to match previously provided estimates.
But Can't I get a Patent Cheaper at the XYZ website?
We do not strive to be the cheapest patent attorneys, and it is always possible that another firm can provide a similar service at a lesser price. However, we encourage you to be careful of prices that seem too good to be true. If 90 percent of patent attorneys will charge you between $8,000 and $10,000 for a patent application, be careful of anyone willing to draft an application for less than half that amount. A competent, beginning patent attorney may be willing to draft a very good patent application for a good price, but in many cases, a very low fee indicates that you may not be getting what you expect. In particular, we encourage you to avoid any service that offers to help draft your patent application without the assistance of a U.S. patent attorney or patent agent. Aside from the questionable legality of these services, U.S. patent law is an extremely complex and nuanced area of the law. We encourage you not to risk your invention to someone that is not qualified to practice before the U.S. patent office.
Furthermore, we are very confident in our ability to provide the strategic advice you need to successfully navigate the patent system. We strive to understand your inventions as well as your current business needs. When combined with our experience with the patent system, we are confident that you will not find better service at other law firms, regardless of the price.
Call us. We can help.
Let Forsgren Fisher McCalmont DeMarea Tysver help with your patent issues. Contact me for a free initial consultation.
Guidance on Filing A Patent Application
These pages provide guidance on filing a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
What is a patent application?
What rights are created by a patent?
What if you cannot afford to enforce your patent rights?
What are the benefits of patent pending status?
What makes patent application so expensive?
What is the cost breakdown of a patent application?
What is the cost of a design patent application?
Can't I get a cheaper patent somewhere else?
How to identify your invention (not my proposed product)?
How to value your invention
Should you trust invention submission companies?
What difference do the "first to file" laws make?
What are the deadlines for filing a patent application?
Do you need to create a working model of your invention?
What is a patentability search?
How can searches avoid wasteful patent applications?
How can searches improve a patent applications?
When is a search unnecessary (or even unhelpful)?
What is a provisional application?
Do provisional applications save money?
What are the benefits of a provisional application?
Can I file a provisional application without an attorney?