The cost of a patent varies from one invention to another. The more complex a design, the more it will cost an inventor to patent it. The patent process requires an inventor to prepare an application that describes how the invention works and how to use it. As such, more complex designs need more of an attorney’s time to make a patent application that explains how the invention works. Patenting a simple and straightforward invention could cost an applicant $5,000 to $7,000, with more complex designs costing more than $15,000.

The average cost to patent a regular invention is $8,500. The simpler your invention, the less you will have to pay. A majority of the cost of patenting an invention goes to the attorney preparing your application. The less time an attorney needs to spend working on your patent application, the less you will have to pay. Now, let’s discuss some of the other costs associated with patenting an idea or invention.

How Much Does It Cost to File a Patent Application?

If you choose to file a patent application on your own, you should expect to pay the following fees at the time you file your utility patent application:

• Patent filing fee – $75

• Utility patent search fee – $330

• Utility patent examination fee – $380

• Invention drawings fees – $350

• Total: $1,135

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That said, these are only the filing fees for the invention; if the patent office grants your patent application, you will also need to pay an issuance fee that is currently set at $400. Additionally, after the patent office grants your utility patent application, there are maintenance fees that must be paid at 3.5, 6.5, and 11.5 years to keep your patent active. If you miss any of the maintenance fees, your patent will expire prematurely. 

The expenses we just listed do not include attorney fees. You should only seek to patent your invention on your own if you have experience preparing patent applications and prosecuting them with the patent office. USPTO does allow inventors to patent their own designs; however, they highly recommend that creators hire an attorney to assist them with the patenting process, especially if they don’t have experience doing so. Attorneys typically charge applicants $8,500 to patent relatively straightforward inventions. 

Just remember that an attorney may charge you more or less depending on the complexity of your invention. Also, attorneys in different States charge different fees. 

If you don’t have the money to hire an attorney, you should consider hiring a patent agent. Patent agents can assist inventors in preparing their patent applications and dealing with the patent office. They are licensed to do so by the USPTO. The great thing about patent agents is that they charge much less than attorneys, and they perform the same work attorneys do.

Provisional Patent Cost

Many inventors choose to file a provisional patent application prior to filing a regular nonprovisional patent application because provisional applications are cheaper to file since they require less formalities and preparation. 

A provisional application costs $140 to file, and attorneys typically charge $2000 to prepare a provisional application. So, you’re looking at approximately $2,140 to have an attorney prepare and submit your provisional patent application.

Inventors like to use provisional patent applications because they reserve a filing date for an invention. Booking an early filing date is essential. The United States has a first to file rule that awards a patent to the first inventor to submit a patent application for an invention. 

Quickly filing a provisional application is essential to avoid having the patent office awarding a patent to another inventor who files a patent application before you do.

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Utility Patent Cost

A utility patent is one that protects how an invention works. That is, it protects the functional aspects of a design or device. In the United States, a utility patent for an invention typically costs $5,000 on the low-end, and the cost can reach over $15,000, depending on the complexity of what’s being patented. On average, utility patents cost around $8,500 for an invention that has medium complexity, such as a flashlight or a simple electronic gadget. More complex devices, such as cell phones, computer software, and medical devices, can easily exceed $15,000. 

Design Patent Cost

Design patents are different from utility patents. Design patents are the second most popular applied for a patent after utility patents. Design patents protect the aesthetics of an invention or how the device looks. Design patent applications require much less preparation than utility patents, and this is reflected in the cost of patenting a design. Typically, attorneys charge $2,500 to $3,500 to prepare and file a design patent application. 

In addition to attorney fees, an individual must pay the following patenting fees:

• Design patent filing fee – $100

• Design patent search fee – $80

• Design patent examination fee – $300

• Total USPTO fees – $480

That said, if the USPTO grants your design patent application, you will need to pay a design patent issuance fee of $350. The total amount to patent a design ranges from $3,330 to $4,330.

Plant Patent Cost

Plant patents are the least applied for in the United States. Plant patents make up less than 1% of all applications. They protect new plant species. To qualify for a plant patent, an individual must have asexually reproduced a plant species that is new. Plant patents typically cost between $4,000 and $8,000. These prices include government fees, as well as attorney fees.

Pros & Cons of Patents

The main reason inventors patent their inventions is to gain control over who can use, make, sell, and import the patented invention to the United States. Once an individual patents his invention, no one can use it without first obtaining his permission. This allows inventors to choose whom to allow to use their patented design/device. Many inventors sell their patents or license them to third parties in exchange for an agreed-upon fee.

Creators also patent their inventions to stop others from copying their products. This is so because no one can reproduce a patent holder’s product without first obtaining the patent holder’s permission. This allows the patent holder to become the only person offering the patented product for sale, giving him a competitive advantage over his competitors.

If anyone uses or copies a patent holder’s patented product or invention, the patent holder can legally ask them to stop. If they do not stop, a patent holder can bring a lawsuit against them for patent infringement in Federal District Court.

The biggest con of patenting an invention is the cost associated with it. First, you need a pretty high fee to prepare and file your patent application, and then you need to pay an issuance fee, as well as periodic maintenance fees. If you’re deciding whether to patent your invention, make sure that it’s something you can profit from. We say this because if you can’t make money from licensing your design, it may not be worth your time and money to patent it.

The second con of patenting an invention is that it takes a lot of time to obtain a patent. In the U.S, it takes approximately two years from the date you file your nonprovisional utility patent application. For some inventors, this is just too much time to wait. So, the amount of time is a con and is something that you should consider beforehand.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a poor man’s patent?

A poor man’s patent will not get you a patent, but here is what it means. A poor man’s patent involved mailing a description of your invention to yourself in order to establish a date for your invention from the mailing date stamped on the envelope. Please do not rely on this method as it does not work and will not help you obtain a patent in any way, shape, or form.

2) What is the cheapest way to get a patent?

The cheapest way to get a patent is to prepare your patent application on your own and file it with the USPTO. This is not recommended because U.S patent law is quite complex, and making mistakes could end up costing you more time and money to fix down the road. If you don’t have the money to hire a lawyer, try hiring a patent agent as they usually charge less for the same type of services offered by attorneys.

3) What is the average cost to obtain a patent?

The average cost to obtain a patent is $8,500. Your cost may be significantly more depending on how complex your invention is and how much time your attorney needs to prepare your patent application. Other issues may arise during the patenting process, and they could add to the cost of patenting your invention.

4) What are the rights of a patent owner?

A patent owner has the right to control who uses, makes, sells, and imports his patented invention to the United States. No one can use or sell the patented invention or product without obtaining the patent holder’s permission.

5) Should you hire an attorney to patent your invention?

Yes, if you have an invention that’s worth patenting and you have the finances to patent your invention, you should hire an attorney to assist you. Patent attorneys are not cheap, so make sure you have a design/device that you can make money from before investing in hiring an attorney.

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