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Cost of Obtaining a Patent

UPDATED: December 10, 2011

This page contains detailed information on the cost of obtaining a patent in the United States.  For additional, background information about the costs associated with obtaining a patent please see some of our other pages, including these:

Estimating US patent costs is admittedly a difficult matter because so much depends on the technology involved, but what follows should give some meaningful guidance when budgeting. For information about filing a patent application please see US Patent Applications. If you are interested in hiring a patent attorney please contact me and I will be happy to provide you a quote and create a plan of action for you.

If you are interested in filing a provisional patent application the cost for attorney time alone is at least $1,500, if you are looking to get a provisional patent application written as a precursor to a nonprovisional patent application, which is what you really ought to be aiming for.  The filing fee is $125 (for small entities and independent inventors) and drawings typically cost $75 to $125 per page, so a high quality provisional patent application for can typically be prepared and filed for under $1,800.  If, for example, you were to have my firm prepare the provisional patent application for you then you would save money later when you file  nonprovisional patent application because we would start with the provisional patent application we created and expand from there.  Because we will have already done $1,500 in legal work that would lower the amount you would be expected to pay for a nonprovisional patent application. Please do note that for computer related inventions and software the cost for us to prepare and file a provisional patent application is typically $3,500 plus the filing fee and drawing costs.


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If you are looking for a cheaper provisional patent application then I would recommend that you consider the Invent & Patent System, which is something that I have developed over the years.  It started out as a teaching tool I used with law students to teach them how to write a patent application.  It was then transformed into a self-help patent application creation system that could be used by inventors to create their own patent applications.  It is primarily for the creation of provisional patent applications, but can be used with great efficiency to form the basis of a draft nonprovisional patent application.  The cost of using this system is $99, and if you are interested in an attorney review and feedback it can be provided for $350.  For more information on this unique system CLICK HERE.

If you are going to ultimately receive a patent, whether you start with a provisional patent application or not, you are going to need to file a nonprovisional patent application.  Without knowing a good deal about an invention it is very difficult if not completely impossible to give a ballpark estimate as to likely costs associated with filing a nonprovisional patent application.  Nevertheless, below is some rough guidance regarding what you can expect to pay in attorneys fees through filing of a nonprovisional patent application if you were to have me or my firm do the work for you.  Again, if you were to have started with a provisional patent application prepared and filed by us the estimates would be reduced by the amount paid in legal fees for the preparation of the provisional patent application.  The examples are intended to be illustrative of the level of complexity, not to suggest that they would be patentable.  Please be aware that the government filing fee is now over $600 for 20 patent claims (assuming you are a small business or independent inventor) and professional drawings, which really need to be thought of as required, typically cost approximately $400 for a complete set.  It is also worth noting that virtually no invention is “relatively simple.”  Inventors always want to believe what they have is relatively simple, but the majority of inventions for most independent inventors range from minimally complex to moderately complex.

Type of Invention Examples Cost
Relatively Simple electric switch; coat hanger; paper clip; diapers; earmuffs; ice cube tray $5,000 to $6,000
Minimal Complexity board game; umbrella; retractable dog leash; belt clip for cell phone;
toothbrush; flashlight
$6,000 to $8,000
Moderately Complex power hand tool; lawn mower; camera; cell phone;  microwave oven $8,000 to $10,000
Intermediate Complexity ride on lawn mower; video game; simple RFID devices; solar concentrator;
simple software
$10,000 to $12,000
Relatively Complex shock absorbing prosthetic device, software, business methods; software $12,000 to $15,000
Highly Complex MRI scanner; PCR; telecommunication networking systems $15,000 +

These are just ballpark figures, and attorneys fees through filing can certainly go well above $15,000 depending on complexity of invention and/or the need for and ability to acquire broad patent protection.

How much you will spend on a patent application also depends upon what it is that you want to do with the patent and whether there are realistic market opportunities. In the event there are realistic market opportunities you may spend more even on something that is simple to make sure that you have covered the invention enough to have a strong resulting patent. By way of example, you could probably find an attorney to write a patent for a business method or computer software for quite cheap (maybe $5,000), but a cheap computer related patent would not be nearly as strong as a patent application costing $20,000 or more. The devil is always in the details. Getting a stronger patent requires more claims and more attention to providing an adequate disclosure and describing as many alternatives, options and variations as possible. This, of course, requires greater attorney time and higher filing fees, which in turn requires more time spent working with the patent examiner to get the patent issued.

If you decide to go it alone and file your own patent application without an attorney you need to have your eyes open and understand the risks involved. I have created the Invent & Patent System™, which you can use to prepare your own provisional patent applications for just $189, but if you choose to proceed without an attorney you need to be careful and make sure you completely describe your invention.  The original patent application filed, whether a provisional patent application or a nonprovisional patent application, is critically important. It must be complete. Some mistakes can be corrected later on as you work with the patent examiner, but you absolutely will not be able to add new information to the original filing. Therefore, the original filing is the most important step in the invention/patent process. The mistake that most inventors make is to narrowly describe and claim exactly what they have invented and nothing else. What you have actually invented and are making must be included in the patent, but you will almost always be entitled to far broader scope than you could possibly imagine. For example, if you were to need to affix to piece of metal together, and in the original filing you mentioned only connecting these metal pieces by using rivets, your patent would not include and could not be amended later to include other methods of affixing pieces of metal, such as through nuts and bolts, welding or glue, just to name a few. This example illustrates how important it is to know the intricacies of patent law and patent claim drafting, which is why companies and experienced inventors hire patent attorneys rather than going it alone.

If you feel you need the assistance of a patent attorney my firm can help. I have been helping independent inventors and start-up companies since 1998. If you would like to speak with me please fill out my contact form and I will get back to  you as soon as possible.

Good luck!