How Much Does It Cost to Get a Patent?

Rich Goldstein

Founder & Principal Patent Attorney

Applying for a patent is an exciting and complicated process, and it can also be a costly process. How much does it cost to get a patent? The cost of getting a patent will depend on a variety of factors.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Patent?

In general terms, how much it costs to get a patent will often depend on the complexity of your invention, the number of claims you are seeking, the size of your business submitting the patent application, and how much you engage a patent attorney. 

Overall Typical Cost for a Patent

Generally, the typical patent cost for a design or utility patent process will range between $1,000 and $20,000. This range of thousands of dollars hinges on how much of the patent process you decide to do yourself, how many claims you want to claim within your patent application, and the extent of the patent process to which you utilize a patent attorney. Note that the bottom of the range is only possible if you entirely manage the patent applications yourself and only need to pay Patent Office fees.

A person holding a pen and using a calculator

The cost for patent applications will also depend on the type of patent you are looking to get. There are different types of patents. The two most common are utility patents and design patents. A utility patent protects the way something is used and works. 

A utility patent prohibits others from making, using, or selling the instruction or functionality of your idea without your authorization. Unlike a utility patent, a design patent protects the way something looks. This includes the shape and configuration of a product, as well as the surface ornamentation that is applied. In some cases, a design patent can protect both the shape and the ornamentation. 

Patent Application Filing Fees

The Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the government agency that administers patents and patent applications and makes patent determinations. It has established a set of legal fees required when submitting your patent application during the patent process. These USPTO legal fees for filing a patent application depend greatly on the size of your business. They also depend on the number of claims you have submitted within your patent application. 

The Patent Office classifies businesses and other entities applying for patents in three categories: micro entity, small entity, and regular entity. The USPTO legal fees for filing a patent application vary depending on which entity yours falls into during the patent process. 

Types of Entities

A micro-entity may have a maximum qualifying gross income of $206,109, and has previously filed no more than 4 utility (non-provisional) patent applications to be eligible to receive the micro entity discount rate. 

A small entity has a more complicated qualification process under current patent law. A small business has the following two requirements:

  1. It is either:
    • A nonprofit organization; OR
    • Does not, together with all affiliates, have 500 or more employees; and
  2. Has not assigned, licensed, or otherwise conveyed an interest in the invention to a non-small entity.

The Patent Office has four different categories of concerns that qualify as a “small entity”: 

  1. a university;
  2. a nonprofit organization;
  3.  an individual inventor, or 
  4. a small business concern.

More information on small business classifications by the Patent Office can be found in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure

All other entities fall within the regular entity classification. This means these entities must pay the full fees outlined by the Patent Office. 

Provisional Patent Application Fees

provisional patent application is an informal patent application. It allows you to prepare and file a patent application. without any type of formal oath or declaration. But importantly, it reserves your filing date and grants you patent-pending status

Provisional patent application fees are less than non-provisional patent application fees. Set out below is the specific fees for provisional patent applications. 

Type of Filing
Micro Entity Fee
Small Entity Fee
Regular Fee
Provisional application filing fee

Non-provisional Patent Application Fees

nonprovisional patent application is the formal patent application submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for your invention. Remember that this patent application must be filed within one year after filing your provisional patent application. Filing this patent application will mark your idea as patent-pending status.  

Below is a chart of the basic non-provisional patent application filing fees for the different types of patents, including a utility patent, design patent, and a plant patent:

Type of Filing
Regular Fee
Small Entity Fee
Micro Entity Fee
Basic filing fee for utility patent
Basic filing fee for design patent
Basic filing fee for plant patent

There are also additional fees for late provisional patent application filings that range from $15-160 depending on the size of your business.

If you have more than 20 claims in your provisional patent application, then you must pay between $25-100 for each additional claim, depending on the size of your business. You can see all the other potentially applicable fees on this page of the USPTO website

Patent Search Fees

As part of the patent application review process, patent searches need to be conducted by the examiner to look for prior art. Patent searches for prior art will aid the examiner in determining whether or not your invention is truly novel and thus will qualify for a patent because it will let the examiner know if others have already filed for or received a similar patent.

You should conduct your own patent search for prior art within the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s various patent databases. It is also helpful to have a patent attorney conduct patent searches within these databases. Patent attorneys are much more experienced with the databases.  Patent lawyers can sometimes find things you might have been unable to on your own. Our patent lawyers can also provide you pointers for further searching on your own.

The Patent Office also charges fees for conducting its own patent searches:

Type of Filing
Regular Fee
Small Entity Fee
Micro Entity Fee
Utility patents search fee
Design patents search fee
Plant search fee

Patent Examination Fees

The Patent Office also will charge an examination fee for conducting its patent examinations for approval. These fees also range depending on the type of entity submitting your own patent application. Below are the current costs for patent examinations:

Type of Filing
Regular Fee
Small Entity Fee
Micro Entity Fee
Utility patents examination fee
Design examination fee
Plant examination fee

Patent Attorney Fees

A significant part of the design or utility patent cost analysis is the cost of a registered patent attorney. To prepare and file your own patent can be a daunting task. Retaining an attorney to aid in the patent application process can be incredibly important in ultimately obtaining approval. This is because attorneys are experienced in drafting provisional patent applications in a way that will allow your own patent application. to have a greater likelihood of success in getting approval. 

Patent lawyers regularly interact with the patent examiners. There are typically numerous back and forth office actions and responses as your own patent application is in the patent prosecution phase. 

Patent attorneys are skilled at communicating and negotiating with these patent examiners and can ensure your responses to any of the patent examiners’ questions are appropriately responded to. 

If you choose to employ an attorney during your own patent application process, a patent attorney generally assists in the following areas:

  1. Prior art searches, analysis of the searches, and related discussions;
  2. Preparation of provisional patent applications;
  3. Preparation of non-provisional patent applications;
  4. Preparation of response to office actions by a patent examiner;
  5. Payment of issuance and pay maintenance fees; and
  6. Review and analysis of correspondence and discussions related to this correspondence. 

So, much does it cost? The actual fees that a registered patent attorney charges for these services will vary depending on the attorney. Moreover, some attorneys will drill down into the smaller services for each step like maintenance fees, while others will charge flat rates for specific services and do not charge by the hour. Make sure to go over your patent attorney’s fee structure. 

How to Keep Patent Costs Down

There are some key ways that you can keep the costs of getting a patent down. You can pick and choose which ones you think will be the most effective in your specific circumstances, or you can try them all and cut down costs even more. 

Two men having a conversation

Complete Your Own Prep Work

First off, a great way to cut patent cost for getting a patent is to complete as much of the prep work up front by yourself, without a law firm or other specialists getting involved until your idea and invention is more clearly fleshed out.  This may sometimes save patent costs because less work will be required. But more often, you being clear about the invention, about your plans for the invention and your other goals will help your patent attorney and the law firm to focus on the work that matters most to meeting your goals.

This means you take the time to think through your idea fully before reaching out to a law firm, build out a prototype of your invention, draft a business plan, conduct market research, and complete other prep work up front. Wait to engage an experienced law firm until these pieces are in place, or at least until you have clarity about what is needed. 

Conduct Initial Patent Searches

Another way to cut costs for your utility patent application is to conduct some initial patent searching on your own. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a great video that walks through a step-by-step strategy for conducting a patent search.  

Overall, spend some time brainstorming patent search words and phrases. Then conduct searches within classes and subclasses on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. The Patent And Trademark Office sorts each patent into various classes. There are about 450 classes in total. Examples of patent classes include Apparel, Cutlery, Metal Working, Sewing, and Woodworking. 

Write the First Draft of Your Patent Application

Another great way to cut down the patent cost is to be the one to draft the first draft of your patent application, instead of a law firm. You are the one who knows your invention the best anyway, so it can be very helpful for a patent attorney if you are the first one to write out the process and procedure in the most clear and concise manner. 

It is also helpful to draw clear diagrams of your invention to aid in the description of your invention and the understanding of those reading it. Remember to simplify things as much as possible. While you have spent a lot of time with your invention and idea, your patent attorney and law firm, and more importantly, your patent examiner, will not know it as well as you do. 

In general, being able to clearly and quickly explain your invention and how it works will go a long way in keeping your patent cost down. 

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