Most clients new to the patenting process want to know exactly what a patent will cost. Unfortunately, most law firms don't want to give exact values as the overall cost can depend on a series of factors that are outside of the attorney's control or they want to charge as much as they reasonably can. However, I believe a patent attorney should be able to accurately forecast the costs associated with a patent throughout its life to the best of their ability. Providing a client with an accurate estimate of costs allows the client to budget appropriately and include the patenting process as part of the overall product development program. An attorney has an ethical duty to represent the client to the best of their ability and managing costs is essential to any client's business. I wouldn't recommend any patent attorney that doesn't show you exactly how the costs are broken down.
A simple utility patent application can cost between $5,000 to $9,000 for just the attorney's work. Additionally, there are out-of-pocket costs for the drawings ($150/sheet) and for the filing fees at the USPTO (typically $500 for a small entity). After reviewing the invention, I provide an estimate of the costs based on the amount of work that preparing the application will likely require. Unlike a large majority of other firms, I can keep my costs in line with my estimates. In my experience most clients prefer fixed fee arrangements.
The rates I quote are competitive with any patent firm, whether they are solo-practitioners or large (and expensive) general practice firms. The price a client can pay for a patent can vary widely depending on which firm they ultimately choose. I have colleagues at competing large firms where a patent can end up costing three times as much! I recommend all clients shop around to see the variability in price... unless you don't mind overpaying.
The client must also keep in mind that there are other costs associated with the patenting process beyond preparing the application. The Examiner at the USPTO will undoubtedly reject (improper or not) the application in the beginning which will require the patent attorney to draft a response to the Office Action. At this stage the prosecution process can be short or lengthy, depending on the prior art cited by the Examiner and the willingness to withdraw the rejections. Typically a single response to an Office Action is around $2,000. Once a patent is allowed, there will be an issue fee which is typically $1,055. There are also maintenance fees at 4 years, 8 years, and 12 years. As you can see, a simple patent can eventually cost $10,000 or more to file, prosecute to allowance, and maintain for its 20 year life. I recommend clients initially budget around $10,000 for a simple invention over the life of 20 years.
Below is a list of the typical costs of a patent throughout its 20 year life. This list is provided for guidance on estimated costs such that a client can budget appropriately:
- Preliminary Patentability Search $1,000.00 - $1,500.00
- Provisional Patent Application $1,000.00 - $2,500.00 & Filing Fees $110.00
- Utility Patent Application $5,000.00 - $9,000.00 (simple invention) & Drawings ($150/sheet) & Filing Fees (small entity) $500.00+
- Responses to Office Actions $2,000.00+ (depends upon cited prior art by the Examiner and the prosecution process)
- Issue Fee upon Allowance (small entity) $1,055.00
- Maintenance Fees (small entity) $490.00 at 4 years, $1,240.00 at 8 years, and $2,055.00 at 12 years
Depending on your financial budget and goals, we can tailor a program to meet your needs while saving costs. For further information on how we can best serve your needs, feel free to contact me.