How Much Do Patents Cost?

The answer to this question would depend on a number of factors including, for example, the complexity of your invention, the type of your invention, the attorneys fees and whether or not you decide to start with a provisional patent application filing before you undergo the full patent application process. The costs could be greatly increased when pursuing international patent rights.

For the purposes of this article, we will assume that your attorneys work with SmartUp and that you begin your utility patent process with a Provisional Patent Application for a software invention in the USA.

For a quality provisional patent, which secures your patent priority rights for one year, you will not need to pay more than $899 + Gov’t Fee. If you qualify as a micro-entity, your government fee may be reduced to just $65. Else, you will likely be paying a $130 government fee.

Thus, a total $964 is all you would need to budget to maintain your patent pending status for 1 year.

The ‘next step’, would be to follow with a non-provisional patent application that claims patent priority to the provisional patent application. For 2014, our rate is approximately $5000 + Gov’t Fees for the preparation, filing, and representation of your patent application throughout it’s examination under power of attorney. This will have you set for another 1.5 years after the application has been filed, yet still pending examination.

Once examination begins (the average ‘pending examination’ time is 18 months as of USPTO records for 2013), it will likely be that the Examiner would request to hold an interview to discuss the patentability of the application.  It would also be likely that we would need to address any objections that the Examiner has to the application (known as an Office Action). This may occur approximately 2 years after your initial provisional patent filing, and I would budget an additional $3000 for the Examination process, including government and attorneys fees.

After the Examination process, you may be granted a patent. Note: A Patent Grant it is never guaranteed!  The USPTO has sole discretion in deciding which patent applications are awarded patent rights!  Your application hinges on the following question: How much do the Patent Examiner’s like the novelty and non-obviousness of your invention?  If your application is granted, you will be expected to pay ‘maintenance fees’ to the USPTO every 3.5 years post allowance for the first 11.5 years of your 20 year patent term. I would budget and additional $5k for this for micro and small entities. The Total in Securing a Patent, including a provisional?

Provisional Filing: $964
Non-Provisional Filing: $5400
Patent Examination: ~$3000
Grand Total:
Approximately $9000 over the course of 3 years with SmartUp!  Once you’ve been awarded a patent, you can expect to pay an additional ~$5000 to the government over the course of your 20 year right to exclude others from making, using, or selling your patent invention! This is really reasonable considering the is a right to a ‘monopoly’ of an item of utility in a capitalist society.

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.