How much does a patent cost?
A one-size-fits-all patent does not exist. Patents vary widely. They differ not only at the initial filing stage, but also in the journey after the initial filing. For example, design patents are more predictable than utility patents. We can estimate the costs and probabilities of success of a design patent application with much greater certainty than those of a utility patent application. The question of cost, therefore, depends upon certain key factors. Arguably, the greatest cost factor is choosing between a design patent or utility patent. A utility patent will cost substantially more than a design patent to obtain.
Within the broad category of utility patents, you will find a very wide range of fees. The cost equation must take into account your technology and who you hire. For a comprehensive list of IP costs, see our flat rate patent and trademark fees.
How much does it cost to file a patent application?
Initial filing costs are generally easier to estimate than ongoing costs. Keep in mind that these ballpark initial filing estimates do not cover patent searches or responding to rejections. There are two main components that make up the initial cost of filing a patent application:
- attorney’s fees; and
- out-of-pocket expenses, including USPTO government fees and patent drawing illustrator fees.
For a small entity, below are ballpark cost estimates for the initial filing of US patent applications.
What is the cost to file a design patent application?
A design patent application will cost approximately $1,450 to file for a small entity (e.g., individuals, companies with fewer than 500 employees). If you qualify as a micro entity, our initial filing cost will be approximately $1,250. By conducting a prior art search, we can expedite a design patent application by filing a Rocket Docket request which costs an additional $1,640.
Though much cheaper than utility patents, design patents protect only the ornamental appearance of your concept. A design patent protects how your product looks, and not how it works.
What are the ongoing costs after filing a design patent application?
A US design patent application has an allowance rate of over 85%. In most cases, therefore, your typical design patent application will not incur substantial ongoing costs other than payment of the issue fee.
Small entity clients of our firm should expect to pay an additional cost of roughly $1,100 for the issue fee. Thereafter, our firm does not charge any additional fees for forwarding the original patent certificate. There are no renewals to pay for design patents.
What is the cost to file a utility patent application?
A nonprovisional utility patent application will cost between $7,600 to $16,000 to draft and file.
Entrepreneurs may want to focus primarily on initial filing costs and determine what their budgets can afford. Our firm offers flat rates for design and utility patent filings. There may be time to raise capital or monetize the invention in order to afford the ongoing costs detailed below.
Be careful of overreliance on cheap provisional patent applications. Provisional applications will not lead to any granted patent rights unless you follow through with a timely nonprovisional application.
What are the ongoing costs after filing a utility patent application?
Ongoing costs are inevitable with utility patent applications. The question is not if there will be additional costs, but how much. Utility patent applications are wildly unpredictable, but you can expect a 90% chance of at least one rejection.
In fact, your utility patent application may face multiple Office Action rejections. A response to an Office Action rejection may range from $950 to $2,800, not including USPTO fees for extensions of time and any excess claims. To make progress and reduce the risk of further rejections, consider having your patent attorney conduct an Examiner Interview.
After the initial filing, ongoing costs in a utility patent application can range from $5,000 to over $30,000. The high end of that range might include an appeal.
What is the total cost of obtaining a patent?
While ongoing patent prosecution costs may be uncertain, knowing rough ballpark costs of the patent process will help you know what you’re getting yourself into. Keep in mind there will always be outliers. For the majority of patent filings handled by our firm, the following estimates of the patent application process from start to finish would apply:
- Design patent: approx. $2,000 to $3,500
- Utility patent: approx. $15,000 to $45,000
If the potential to spend up to $45K to get a utility patent gives you sticker shock, then it’s better to recognize that possibility upfront.
What is the cost to draft and file a provisional patent application?
Since the cost of drafting and filing a provisional patent application can vary widely, a good rule of thumb is to expect about half the cost of drafting a nonprovisional application. Spending about 50% of the cost of a nonprovisional should provide you with a more substantial provisional application.
Our firm’s fee for drafting a provisional patent application starts at $3,900.
Why are utility patent costs so unpredictable?
Simply put, most utility patent applications will get rejected. According to this Yale study of utility patent applications filed from 1996 to 2005, over 86% of all filed utility patent applications received a first rejection called a non-final Office Action, and over 38% of all filed utility applications received a second rejection called a Final Office Action.
So there is a high likelihood that your claims will be rejected over prior art. When that happens, each response to an Office Action may cost between $1,500 to $3,000. The goal is to receive an allowance after responding to one Office Action, but it is not uncommon to receive multiple Office Actions.
Design patent costs are much more predictable due to the high allowance rate of approximately over 84% as of the time of this post.
What is the cost of an international patent application?
Foreign patent costs vary widely by country. Each foreign patent office has their particular local rules and examination guidelines. International patent costs can easily exceed $100,000 for a single patent family depending upon the number of foreign countries desired. There are strategies to streamline international patent prosecution in order reduce foreign patent costs.
You can file a single PCT patent application for roughly $3,500 to $4,000 to obtain patent-pending status in several foreign countries.
Need a flat rate patent application estimate?
Contact US patent attorney Vic Lin or call (949) 223-9623 to request a flat fee estimate for filing your patent application. If our starting cost exceeds your budget, email us a competitive quote for filing a utility or design patent application. We’ll promptly respond with a proposal if we can match or beat the competitive quote.
If you’ve found this post helpful, check out recommended patent and IP resources.
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