The notion of protecting an idea has been part of American industry since 1790 when Samuel Hopkins received the first patent for his potash-processing apparatus. Eight million patents later, the system for protecting an idea, product or process continues to attract individual and corporate inventors, many of whom are unaware of the costs involved in pursuing a patent.
What to Consider Before Applying for Your Patent
Creating a Unique Description
At the heart of every patent is an idea or item that is deemed unique. Because there are millions of patents already in existence, defining the uniqueness of your invention means not inadvertently describing the already patented invention of someone else. Additionally, patent courts require comprehensive technical details in the description of potentially patentable inventions, and many patent applications contain complex diagrams and illustrations of the invention and its potential uses. Consequently, patent fees usually include the cost of searching all national and international patent registries for similar or matching items; the cost of the illustrations or diagrams of the invention; and the cost to generate a description that sufficiently identifies your item as, indeed, unique.
With both technological and legal training, patent attorneys bring a unique perspective to the patenting process, but often at a steep price. Some inventors hire patent attorneys to handle the entire process from research to protection of the finalized patent, and are prepared to pay anywhere from $250 to $500 per hour that the attorney might charge for those services. Others ask the attorney to simply do the patent search and provide an opinion about the merits of the application.
Patent Office Fees
Filing a patent application is a process that generates fees at various steps along the way. There is the basic application filing fee, as well as fees for services provided by the USPTO, including conducting a patent search and the examination of the application. Applications incur additional charges for time extension requests, patent issuance and maintenance over time.
Estimates of the Cost of Filing a Patent
The total costs involved in acquiring a patent depend on the invention, the type of patent sought and the nature of the entity seeking it. Accordingly, it’s impossible to estimate what the cost of your invention will be until we see it, meet you and make the appropriate investigation. However, industry experts estimate that obtaining a patent on a “simple” invention (like a paper clip or a coat hanger) can total anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000. A patent on a complicated piece of software may cost $15,000 or more. There are also costs associated with prosecuting the protection over time so the price you pay for a patent continues to accumulate while it remains enforceable.
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Note: This page is intended to provide legal information. It is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. If you have specific questions about a legal matter, please contact your attorney.