Based on the uncertainties of the searching process, and the number of amendments and drawings that may be required, one can typically expect to spend at least $5,000.00 to $10000.00 in obtaining an issued United States Patent. The following is a basic description of the patent process and breakout of the various expenses that one can expect to incur in obtaining such an issued patent.
To begin, a patent application is not a form, instead it is perhaps the most complex legal document to ever be prepared by an attorney. Go to any patent database search engines and retrieve an issued patent. The issued patent is the original patent application in a typeset form (less simple transmittal documents which could be described as the only patent application forms).The issued patent also has incorporated amendments, if any were made while the patent application was being examined by a patent office examiner in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the USPTO).
The costs and fees associated with obtaining a patent are summarized below:
Preliminary Patentability Search. Obtaining a patent is a relatively expensive process. To start, because of the large expenses in filing and prosecuting a patent application before the USPTO, it is a very wise thing to have a preliminary patentability search performed. The costs and attorney fees for having a searched performed, reviewed and opining whether or not it appears that the item of manufacture, process or machine is patentable is about $650.00 to $1000.00. This expense can be avoided if you want to conduct your own patent search and rely on your own findings or if you simply want to file the patent application without conducting such a search.
Preparing and Filing the Patent Application. If a favorable opinion is provided, a patent application needs to be prepared and filed with the USPTO. A typical patent application include 2-3 patent drawings which cost about $150.00 per sheet to prepare for a total of $300-450.
Next an abstract, a detailed description and claims must be prepared for the application. This is an extremely difficult task and should be performed by an attorney registered to practice patent law before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A roster of registered patent attorneys is maintained by the USPTO. Fees associated with simple mechanical cases are typically between $3500 and $4500 depending upon the complexity of the invention. Cases involving electrical circuits, computers and software systems are much more expensive, ranging between about $5000 and $7000.
Once the application is prepared it must be filed. The USPTO charges a filing fee of $355.00 and it is best to send the application via Express Mail to make certain a proper filing receipt is issued. The Express Mailing is about $15.00.
From the foregoing, one can easily expend between about $5250 and $8500 for searching and filing a patent application.
Prosecuting the Patent Application Before the USPTO. Once the application is filed, it enters a prosecution phase. In the prosecution phase, each Official Action issued by the USPTO generally results in the need for an Amendment to the application to be prepared. Such amendments typically cost in attorney fees between about $800 and $2000 depending upon the complexity of the required amendment.
During prosecution, it is possible that 2-3 amendments maybe necessary. Accordingly, one can spend an additional $1600 to $6000 for prosecuting the application. If the prosecution phase is successful the USPTO will issue a Notice of Allowance.
The Patent Issue Phase Before the USPTO. Once Notice of Allowance is received, formal patent drawings must be prepared from the originally prepared informal drawings. This costs an additional $125-150 per sheet. In addition, an Issue Fee must be paid to the USPTO of about $685.00. Finally, additional attorney time is required to finalize all the documents and to submit the Issue Fee to the USPTO. This costs typically an additional $200-300. In short then, the issue process can cost between an additional $1135 to $1335. If extra copies of the patent are requested, ten copies can be obtained for an additional $40.00.
Patent Maintenance Fee After the Patent Issues. After the patent has issued ,the USPTO requires that maintenance fees be paid at periodic periods. The maintenance fees increase over the life of the patent which is 20 years from the date the application was filed. The maintenance fee schedule is published by the USPTO and such fees range between $2995.00 and $5790 depending upon your classification as a small entity or large entity.
In Summary. Based on the uncertainties of the searching process, and the number of amendments and drawings that may be required, one can typically expect to spend at least $10000.00 for obtaining a United States Patent. If one wants to protect the invention outside of the United States, that they can expect to expend an additional $20000 per each foreign country in which protection is sought. In short then, as stated in the beginning of this summary, obtaining a patent is a relatively expensive process. Moreover, it is time consuming and generally takes between about 24 to 36 months. A time summary: a search is typically 3-6 weeks, application preparation is typically 6-8 weeks, prosecution is typically 18-24 months, and the issue process is typically 3-9 months.