What is the cost vs. what should be the cost of a provisional patent application?

“How much do you charge for filing a provisional?” We often get asked this question by potential clients. It’s natural and certainly not wrong to ask about the cost of filing a provisional patent application. The real question, however, should center on value:  What value will you receive in comparison to the cost of a provisional patent application? The spectrum of value ranges from no assistance (i.e., DIY provisional) to the cost of a fully compliant nonprovisional patent application.

What value of legal service are you looking for in your provisional patent filing?

Do you simply need a review of your draft and some comments? Perhaps, you want a patent attorney to draft the provisional for you? Are you looking for a patent lawyer to draft a thoroughly detailed description, or you capable of writing the provisional yourself?

The provisional patent application cost should match the value of the patent service offered. For Do-It-Yourself filings, there are plenty of options online. The USPTO even offers some guidance. If you believe you can write a decently detailed description, our firm offers an “as is” provisional patent application package where we review your draft and provide comments for improvement.

If you desire a thorough, well written description that is nearly a nonprovisional application (minus the claims), then expect the cost to be roughly 60% to 80% of the price of a fully draft nonprovisional.

What would not make sense is to expect the value of a utility patent application fully drafted by a registered patent attorney at a fraction of the cost simply because of the “provisional” label. Merely slapping a different title to a well drafted utility patent application does not decrease its value and, therefore, should not decrease its cost.

Are your decisions driven more by budget or value?

You have to play with the hands you’re dealt. And if a limited budget is all you have, then filing a provisional at an affordable cost is better than doing nothing. You can file a provisional patent application directly with the USPTO and avoid attorney’s fees. Some initial setup will be required. That way, the only fee you must pay will be the appropriate USPTO fee for a provisional.

Even if your budget is not small, you may decide to defer legal costs until you have reached a proof of concept. That is understandable as well.

Do you need or want to defer patent legal costs?

Deferring expensive patent legal costs may make good business sense, and it’s certainly possible for inventors to write decent provisional patent applications themselves. Again, the question of attorney’s fees boils down to value. If you are determined to defer patent legal fees until your product reaches certain milestones, then be realistic about what level of service to expect for the price you want to pay.

If you want us to review your draft provisional write-up and provide comments, then email vlin@icaplaw.com or call (949) 223-9623 to explore how we can work together.

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Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney, Cofounder at Innovation Capital Law Group
We align ourselves with Davids fighting Goliaths. Our registered patent attorneys help innovators get IP that drives funding, growth and sales. Email or call us so we can get to work on your IP: (949) 223-9623 | vlin@icaplaw.com