The two most frequently asked questions about getting a patent are:
1. What is the process of getting a patent?
2. How much does it cost?
Let's tackle question #1 first. The process of getting a patent can vary widely from patent to patent but a typical patent process looks like this:
1. Initial Consultation - The initial consultation gives you an opportunity to ask questions and to get an idea of whether your idea is something that can be patented.
2. Price Quote - After the initial consultation, if you decide to move forward, a price quote will be sent to you detailing the scope of work and upfront, flat-fee pricing.
3. Patent Search (optional) - A patent search is an inexpensive way to get an idea of the likelihood of obtaining a patent for your invention before filing.
4. Provisional Application - A provisional application gives you "patent pending" status but requires that you file a regular patent application within one year in order to obtain a patent. With a provisional application, you can show off and market your invention to gauge whether it makes sense to pursue a patent.
5. Utility Patent Application - This is what most people think about when you say "patent." A utility patent application protects devices, methods, and software. You get "patent pending" status when you file a utility application.
6. Receive Office Action from USPTO - In most applications, the patent office (USPTO) will issue an office action which points out which claims the patent office believes are or are not patentable. This is normal part of the process.
7. Respond to Office Action - Arguments for patentability and/or changes to the claims are filed in a formal response to the Office Action.
8. Steps 6 and 7 are repeated as necessary. This part of the process can take months or years and varies a lot from case to case based on factors such as the technology field and your business objectives.
9. Receive Notice of Allowance - Once the patent claims have been deemed patentable by the USPTO, a Notice of Allowance will be issued.
10. Pay Issue Fee - The USPTO charges an issue fee before an allowed application becomes a patent. Once this fee is paid, your patent will be granted. Congratulations! You now have a patent!
How much does it cost to get a patent?
Unfortunately, this isn't as straightforward as it sounds. The cost to obtain a patent depends on a number of factors, including:
1. The type of patent
2. The complexity of your invention
3. Who is applying for the patent (there are discounts for small businesses)
4. Your business objectives
For a simple invention, the cost to obtain a utility patent can be as low as $5,000. For complex inventions, the cost can be as high as $15,000 or more.
Here's how the cost breaks down for a simple invention for a small company:
Utility patent application drafting and filing: $3,500
USPTO filing fee (small entity): $785
Response to Office Action: $900
USPTO issue fee (small entity): $500
The drafting and filing fees (totaling $4,285) are billed upfront. Responses to Office Actions vary and so are billed after each response is filed based on the amount of work performed. The issue fee is paid when the patent is ready to issue and is billed at that time.
Again, this is an example of very straightforward case. Patents can be very valuable assets and cost accordingly. Below is a price list of the most popular patent services.
Patentability Search (Patent Search)
A search of patents and publications related to your invention
Patentability Search and Review with client $700
Patentability Search, Review with client, and Written Opinion $900
Normal delivery time for patent searches is 5-7 business days. Expedited 2-day service may be requested for a $200 surcharge.
Prepare and file a patent application. The prices below do not include USPTO fees as these vary based on the client.
Provisional Application $1,400 and up
Utility Patent Application $3,500 and up
Design Patent Application $1,400 and up
Response to Office Action $225/hr (max $1,350)
Custom work or additional services may be requested at an hourly rate of $225/hr