The cost of a patent could be as high as $40,000 or it could be as low as $10,000 to $15,000. The patent cost is expensive so you have to manage those costs to make the patent process affordable.
You manage the patent costs by paying only for reserving the right to get a patent later on. If and when your marketing shows your invention can be profitable, you can spend the necessary money at that time to get the patent.
How do I afford to get a patent?
This strategy makes the patent process much more affordable. You’re not spending $40,000 upfront when launching your product. You’re spending the minimal amount of money, in the beginning, to reserve the right to get the patent, not on actually getting the patent. I’ll be weaving this strategy into our discussion about patent cost throughout the discussion.
You can also read about the Patent Cost Timeline to figure out how the cash flow will work when you go through the patent process.
How much does a patent search cost?
The first expense during the patent process is a novelty search. A novelty search goes by many different names. We call it a patent search, a patentability search, or a knockout search. The search will cost you between $600 to $4,000, depending on who you hire.
To illustrate what you’re getting for your money, I want to tell you what I drove as my first car. An Aries K car, it’s not a Lamborghini, but they’re both cars, right? I think you get the point, The difference in cost is about the difference in quality. If you spend more in general, it’s not always true, you’re going to get someone who’s going to spend more time on it and search deeper than they would for $600.
Why is a patent search important to get right?
In my opinion, the novelty search is one of the most important steps because it tells you not only whether you should incur the expenses for the patent process, but in many cases, it’s going to tell you whether or not you should launch a product. And that means whether you will be spending all your nights and weekends and all your effort after work on your product launch.
For a good decent patentability search, you should expect to spend about $1,000 to $2,000.
How to avoid paying for a formal patent search?
But before you spend that money, I strongly suggest that you do an informal patent search yourself to manage your patent cost. And if you find something that knocks out your idea, guess what? That’s a great thing. You just saved yourself a ton of money because you didn’t have to hire a patent attorney like me to do a formal search for you.
And here’s how you can do a patent search yourself. You can go to Google Patents, and do some keyword searching.
If you really want to do the patent search right, then you should follow the seven-step patent search strategy. And that’s how the patent office trains its examiners on how to do their patent search when they examine your application. You will be mimicking what the patent office does when they examine your application.
How much does a patent application cost?
Let’s say after the patent search, you find that you can get a patent on your invention or idea. The next step would be the patent application. The patents application will cost you about $8,000 to about $25,000. And the cost for the patent application depends on how much information you want to put in.
If you want to protect just the point of novelty, some options, and variations, or just basically how your idea works, then it’s going to be about $8,000 to $12,000 for a mechanical invention and about $8,000 to $15,000 for an electrical or software invention.
Here is a Patent Application Cost Calculator to find out how much your application might cost.
If you want to pay for a patent cheaper, you can certainly do so. There are a lot of websites that advertise cheap patent applications, but just remember the Aries K car and the Lambo comparison.
How much cheaper is the provisional application compared to the nonprovisional application?
Another question you might have is whether the provisional and the nonprovisional application cost the same. No, the provisional application is cheaper. However, it isn’t cheaper by much. And here’s why. You have to describe how to make and use the invention in both the provisional (PPA) and the nonprovisional application to the same extent.
It’s true the provisional is informal compared to a nonprovisional, but the reduced requirements don’t add up to thousands and thousands of dollars. Most patent attorneys who publish their dirt-cheap rates are just trying to convince you that a cheap provisional is a way to go just to make it sound affordable. However, that simply isn’t the case if you do it right.
Based on my experience, all things being equal, the provisional patent application should cost you about 20% less than a nonprovisional patent application, but not 50% or more. The patent office describes the provisional as a cheaper alternative. But cheaper doesn’t mean cheap. Just like Tesla is cheaper than a Bugatti.
How much does it cost upgrade to a nonprovisional application?
Now, if you filed a well-written provisional patent application (PPA), when it comes time to file the nonprovisional application within a one-year time period, the cost to upgrade the PPA to the NPA or nonprovisional application, shouldn’t be that much. All you’re paying for is the computerized drawings, the government fee, and the full claim set. And that should be about $2,000 to $3,000.
What is cost for a nonprovisional application?
Let’s say you first file a provisional application. The provisional application will cost about $6,000 to $9,000 for a mechanical-based invention.
Now, when you file the nonprovisional application, it shouldn’t cost you another $6,000 to $9,000 to upgrade the provisional to a nonprovisional application. You should have already included the information you needed when you filed the provisional application. The point of novelty, the options, the variations, and the minimally viable product was already included in the provisional application.
You shouldn’t have to rewrite the nonprovisional application if you had the provisional application properly prepared to include all of that information. All that the upgrade from the provisional to the nonprovisional application should cost you is $2,000 to $3,000.
So whether you file the PPA or provisional application first, or you go straight to the nonprovisional application, the total cost at the end to get the nonprovisional application on file is about the same.
|Option 1: File nonprovisional patent application
|Option 2: File provisional then upgrade to a nonprovisional application
|PPA = $6,000 to $9,000
|Upgrade to NPA = $2,000 to $3,000
|NPA cost = $8,000 to $12,000
|NPA cost = $8,000 to $12,000
Now that you understand that the cost to file the nonprovisional application costs the same regardless of whether you file the provisional or nonprovisional application first, should you file the provisional or nonprovisional application first?
Here’s the simple answer. If you don’t know which one to file first, file the provisional application first. You can always change your mind and file the nonprovisional application after you file the provisional application. You can even file the nonprovisional application the day after you file your provisional application. But that’s not true with the nonprovisional application. Once you file the nonprovisional application, you can’t convert it back to a provisional application.
The other reason you want to file a provisional first is that you’ll be able to delay the other costs associated with the patent process for about one year. This goes to the affordability of the patent. When you delay costs, it makes expensive things more affordable. Just like a mortgage makes a home more affordable.
The provisional application gives you more time to market your product without incurring more legal expenses. The plan is to make money to pay yourself and pay for the downstream patent cost.
You make the patent process more affordable by using the profit from your business and not your own money. So even though the total cost to get a patent is very high, the patent process is affordable when you manage the costs.
Let me say it again, a patent is affordable when you pay just to reserve the right to get a patent later on. You reserve your rights by filing a provisional or nonprovisional application. If and when your product is successful, you can spend money to get the patent.
How much are the examination costs for your patent?
After you file the patent application, the next step is the examination. This is where the patent office has worked through its backlog of applications and has finally come to your application. They pick it up, they read your description of the invention, and they examine it to see if it is novel and nonobvious. Then, they send you an office action.
Here is an article I wrote on the short term and long term costs to getting a patent.
Most likely, it’s a list of reasons for rejecting your application for a patent. And you must be asking yourself. I thought we just did a patent search and we cleared that hurdle.
Shouldn’t that first office action be a notice of allowance? Well, no. First, no search is perfect. So it’s important that you find an attorney that will do a class subclass search, which mimics how the patent office will be searching for your invention. This process comes closest to what the patent office will do. It minimizes false positives.
Next, this is just how the examiners work. They piece together multiple prior art references to reject your patent application.
Each time the patent office mails an office action, a response has to be filed. That response will cost you about $1,000 to $5,000, depending on how strong you want your arguments to be. You will go through about two or three cycles. I tell inventors to budget around $5,000 to $10,000 for the examination.
One of the best ways to present the strongest arguments and also reduce the overall cost is to interview the examiner. I normally call the examiner and have the inventor on the line as well. We discuss the merits of the invention.
The interview process will cost you more than filing just a written response, but I think it’s well worth it. Because when you do the interview, you can ask the examiner questions and he’ll provide you instant feedback. So overall, in the long run, it will cost you less to get through the examination stage.
How much are the issue fee and the maintenance fees for the patent?
If you’re ultimately successful in convincing the examiner to grant you your patent, you have to pay an issue fee, which will be about $1,000 to $2,000, depending on your entity size.
Also, you have to pay three maintenance fees, 3 1/2 years, 7 1/2 years, and 11 1/2 years after the patent grants. These maintenance fees will range between $1,000 to $3,000. But, the goal is to have the profits from your product pay for these expenses.