Trying to determine the cost of a patent might seem daunting, but if you take it in pieces, you’ll see it’s not that difficult. This article breaks down the various costs of filing a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Costs for Types of Patent Applications
Provisional Patent (PPA). A provisional patent is a kind of “hold the date” patent application. It secures “first to file” status for the invention, while not requiring all of the processes of a non-provisional patent. The paperwork required for a PPA is shorter, and there is a lower fee than for the regular patent application. Currently (2019) the cost of a provisional patent application is $280, with the cost for a small entity at $140 and a micro-entity at $70. (See definitions below.)
The patent law America Invents Act of 2011 (as amended in 2013) was changed to allow the person or business that files first to receive the patent (in most cases). The provisional patent was put in place to help inventors file quickly. The provisional patent isn’t the final filing; the actual non-provisional patent must be filed within a year or the filer must start over.
Utility patent (general non-provisional). Of course, you can also skip the provisional patent and go right to the non-provisional patent, called a Utility Patent. A utility patent is for “any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof,” including internet patents, according to the USPTO. Currently (2019) the cost of a utility patent application is $300, with the cost for a small entity at $150 and a micro-entity at $75. (See definitions below.)
Design patent. A design patent application costs less than a full utility patent. It’s for “a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.” In other words, it’s about appearance, like a new dress or shoe design, for example. Currently (2019) the cost of a design patent application is $200, with the cost for a small entity at $100 and a micro-entity at $50. (See definitions below.)
Plant patent. This type of patent is for the invention or discovery of an asexually reproduced (cultivated, like hybrids) “distinct and new” plant variety. Currently (2019) the cost of a plant patent application is $300, with the cost for a small entity at $150 and a micro-entity at $75. (See definitions below.)
There may be additional fees, charges, and surcharges, and the costs may change. Please be sure to check the entire USPTO patent fee schedule listing for all costs.
The list of patent fees on the USPTO site includes reduced fees for “small entities” and “micro entities,” which vary based on the regular patent fees. Here’s what the USPTO says about these designations:
- The small entity fee qualification, designated by the USPTO as an “independent inventor, a small business, or a nonprofit organization” reduces the fee amount by half.
- The “micro entities” fee amount is for qualifying small businesses (2019) that have less than a specific amount of gross income (as defined by the USPTO). The fees are reduced by 75 percent.
Patent Search Fees
You can’t hope to get a patent without conducting a search on current patents and patent applications to make sure your patent is new and different enough to get accepted.
There are three cost options for doing a patent search:
- The USPTO will do the search for you, for a $600 fee (unless you are a small or micro entity).
- You can also do the search yourself. The USPTO has a helpful patent search tutorial.
- But the best way to get a thorough, complete search is to have a patent attorney or patent agent do it for you. This cost is the highest, but you “get what you pay for.”
Drawing Fees for Patent Applications
Your patent application must be accompanied by detailed drawings. The USPTO has specific requirements for designs, including showing all the working parts and the features of the product. This means you’ll need the services of a design specialist. Look for someone who has experience in the type of drawing you want to create and in creating patent drawings.
Patent Attorney and Patent Agent Fees for Patent Applications
Patent attorneys and registered patent agents usually work on an hourly basis, with a retainer as a minimum. A patent attorney can help you create your patent application, but only a registered patent agent can file the application.
Look for a patent attorney who is also a registered patent agent who specializes in the type of product you want to patent.
These fees depend, once again, on the complexity and competitive nature of the patent, and also the expertise of the professional. They can range from $300 to over $1000 an hour.
Patent Application Costs – Keeping Your Cost Down
For a simple do-it-yourself utility patent for a small business, you might pay as little as $1000, and up to $15,000 or more for a complex, competitive patent filed by a specialized patent attorney.
To keep your patent application costs at a minimum:
- Make sure your product meets the requirements that allow it to be patented.
- Do a preliminary search yourself, then get a patent agent or attorney to do a comprehensive search.
- Check out the competition, including an online search of current patents.
- Go through the utility patent application to see what’s required, then start working through the list filling in as much information as you can, so you can save an attorney’s time.
- Interview prospective attorneys and patent agents, to check their expertise, their fees, and their fit with what you want.
The more you can do yourself and the better you research the competition, the lower your patent application costs. And, of course, the better chance you have of getting your patent application accepted.