Common patent costs include legal, filing, and maintenance fees. Filing and maintenance fees range from $50 to $700 and $400 to $7,400, respectively, depending on the type of patent. Patent lawyers charge from $1,000 to $10,000-plus depending on the patent type and complexity. How much does a patent cost? Total costs range from $1,500 to $15,000-plus.
One of the biggest costs of filing a patent is hiring a lawyer. However, depending on the type of patent, you can save as much as $13,000 or more by using an online service like Rocket Lawyer. Set up a consultation with their attorneys to apply for a patent and they’ll draft and submit an application for between $1,599 and $7,299, including filing fees.
Common Patent Costs
|Type of Patent Cost|
|Optional Patent Lawyer Fees|
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency that grants U.S. patents and registers trademarks. Regardless of the patent, you’ll pay three categories of fees through the USPTO: filing, search, and examination. Depending on the patent type and the complexity of your intellectual property, expect total fees between $70 and $2,120.
The fees collected by the USPTO include:
- Filing fees between $50 and $700: A USPTO filing fee is the cost related to processing your patent application and depends on various factors, like the type of patent and whether you file electronically.
- Search fees between $40 and $660: Search fees are those fees associated with a patent search that reveals existing inventions or patent applications similar to your invention.
- Examination fees between $150 and $760: These fees cover the USPTO’s review of your patent application.
The USPTO’s Fee Schedule includes a detailed summary of search, filing, and examination fees associated with each type of patent.
Patent Maintenance Fees
Maintenance fees are required for renewing utility patents. The fees, due three times over the life of a patent, range from $400 to $7,400 and depend on the entity and age of the patent. If unpaid, patent protection lapses and rights under the patent lose enforceability, so consider these costs when applying for a utility patent.
Patent Lawyer Costs
A patent lawyer is someone with expertise in intellectual property law who helps inventors navigate the patent application process. Patent lawyers typically bill their fees hourly, although some work on a flat rate. Generally, patent lawyer costs depend on several factors, but expect total patent lawyer cost to be from $1,000 to $10,000.
Patent lawyer fees cover work including:
- Performing a professional patent search: Your attorney will perform a search of the USPTO database to determine whether your idea is similar to an existing patent or application.
- Drafting the patent application materials: A patent lawyer will prepare the application materials to include the necessary information and meet the USPTO’s formatting requirements.
- Negotiating and interacting with the USPTO: Many patent applications involve complex or confusing information and your patent lawyer may need to communicate with the USPTO to answer questions and provide clarifications. A patent lawyer will also defend your patent if the application is initially rejected.
“We realized that if we were going to pursue our idea at all, the first step was protecting our intellectual property with a patent. I’m an attorney myself, but knew we needed to hire a specialized patent lawyer to guide us through the application process.”
– Jeff Smith, Esq. Attorney & Patent Applicant
Because of the required patent expertise, we recommend hiring a lawyer. However, you can save up to $13,400 by using Rocket Lawyer to file a patent application for $1,599 to $7,299. Plus, if you only need to file a provisional patent, simply purchase their application template for $20 or join their $39.99/month membership program for access to an application template, document review, and attorney consultation.
Types of Patents & How Much They Cost
There are three major types of patents: utility, design, and plant. You can also obtain a provisional patent, which gives certain inventions patent-pending status for one year. Patent costs depend on the type of patent and complexity of your idea, with provisional patents starting at $1,500 and some utility patents costing $15,000-plus.
Types of Patents at a Glance
|Type of Patent|
1. Utility Patent Cost
Utility patents protect the creation of useful products, processes, or machines. For example, Apple has numerous utility patents on its iPhone, making it illegal for businesses to copy or imitate the product without a licensing arrangement. A utility patent costs from $5,000 to $15,000-plus, including lawyer fees, and lasts for 20 years if properly maintained.
The breakdown of utility patent costs includes:
- USPTO Filing Fees: $75 – $700
- USPTO Search Fees: $165 – $660
- USPTO Examination Fees: $190 – $760
- Maintenance Fee: $400 – $7,400
- Lawyer Cost: $3,000 – $10,000-plus
Utility patent applications must include detailed descriptions of how the invention works, so the application process can be extremely lengthy and expensive. Though expensive, utility patents are necessary for those who want to prevent others from manufacturing, selling, using, or distributing their products or inventions without their permission.
Utility patents also require maintenance or renewal fees after three, seven, and eleven years of being in effect. Utility patents are the most common type of patent and account for 90 percent of all patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
With the cost of a utility patent sometimes exceeding $15,000, this is the most expensive type of patent. You can save up to $13,400 by using Rocket Lawyer to prepare and file your utility patent application for $3,999, including filing fees. Not only will Rocket Lawyer ensure your application is correct and file it with the USPTO, they’ll follow up as the application moves through the review process.
2. Design Patent Cost
A design patent protects the aesthetics or design of a functional item. For example, Google has a design patent for its homepage because it’s considered a distinct feature of the overall search engine. In general, design patents cost between $2,500 and $3,500, including patent lawyer fees, and last for 14 years.
The breakdown of design patent costs includes:
- USPTO Filing Fees: $50 – $200
- USPTO Search Fees: $40 – $160
- USPTO Examination Fees: $150 – $600
- Maintenance Fee: NA
- Lawyer Cost: $1,500 – $3,000
A design patent application is simpler than a utility application and only needs to include an illustration of what the invention looks like and limited text. If you want to protect the appearance, design, shape, or general ornamentation of an invention, like a computer, you need a design patent.
Design patents aren’t commonly the most expensive type of patent, but you can still save considerable money over hiring an attorney by using Rocket Lawyer to file your application. For $1,699, they’ll prepare and submit your design patent application, review your design drawings to make sure they’re not inaccurate or confusing, and submit the application to the USPTO.
3. Provisional Patent Cost
A provisional patent grants you patent-pending status while you develop your invention, secure financing, or prepare your nonprovisional utility or plant application. Provisional patents last for 12 months, during which you must file a nonprovisional application. Obtaining a provisional patent costs between $1,500 and $3,000, depending on the complexity of the invention.
The breakdown of provisional patent costs includes:
- USPTO Filing Fees: $70 – $280
- USPTO Search Fees: Not applicable
- USPTO Examination Fees: Not applicable
- Maintenance Fee: NA
- Lawyer Cost: $1,000 – $3,500
Typically, a provisional patent is used to protect an idea and give inventors time to further develop it or market it to investors. After 12 months, it’s important to submit a nonprovisional patent application—otherwise, the provisional patent will expire and you’ll have to apply for another one.
For example, if you file a provisional patent on April 30, 2018, you must file a corresponding nonprovisional application by April 30, 2019. This increases your cost because you’ll pay for two applications instead of one.
Rocket Lawyer offers assistance with provisional patent applications, including a template application, document review, and 30-minute attorney consultation as part of their $39.99/month membership program. You can also purchase an application template for just $20. However, if you prefer a Rocket Lawyer attorney to prepare and submit the application for you, choose their patent application service and pay between $1,599 and $2,999, including application fees.
4. Plant Patent Cost
Plant patents are for newly-invented plant types that are reproduced under certain conditions. These patents do not apply to bacteria nor some types of plants. The average cost of obtaining a plant patent ranges from $4,500 to $8,000, inclusive of patent lawyer fees, and they last for 20 years if properly maintained.
The breakdown of plant patent costs includes:
- USPTO Filing Fees: $50 – $200
- USPTO Search Fees: $105 – $420
- USPTO Examination Fees: $155 – $620
- Maintenance Fee: NA
- Lawyer Cost: $4,000 – $6,500-plus
Plant patents are the least common type of patent, with less than 1,200 applied for each year. Though rare, they are appropriate for horticulturalists and others who discover or invent novel and distinct plants that are asexually reproduced.
If you need help applying for a plant patent, use Rocket Lawyer to get help preparing, reviewing, and submitting a provisional or nonprovisional application. How much does a patent cost on Rocket Lawyer? Rocket Lawyer can prepare and file a provisional plant application for $2,999 or a nonprovisional application for $7,299, making this their most expensive patent application.
How to Reduce Your Patent Costs
There are four major ways to reduce patent costs. You can save money by ensuring your invention is complete prior to filing an application and by streamlining the filing process. Be proactive about the contents of your application and follow our tips to reduce the total cost of filing a patent.
To reduce the cost of obtaining a patent:
- Create the first draft: Before engaging a patent attorney, create a first draft of the patent application using Rocket Lawyer. This can reduce the number of billable hours an attorney spends on the document. If you already have an attorney, ask them to provide a template so you can produce a first draft and save on drafting fees.
- Patent a complete invention: When you’re developing an idea, it’s tempting to file for a patent before the invention is complete. However, submitting an incomplete invention or design will waste your patent lawyer’s time and increase your legal expenses. Reduce patent lawyer fees by finalizing the details of your invention before filing your application.
- Thoroughly describe your invention: Provide your patent lawyer with an extremely detailed description of your invention. This will help avoid confusion, limit back-and-forth between lawyers and the USPTO, and reduce patent lawyer fees.
- Start with a provisional patent: If you want to obtain a utility or plant patent but are still ironing out the details, apply for a provisional patent first, saving you money in the short-term. However, if you eventually file for a nonprovisional patent, you’ll also have to pay for that patent’s costs, too.
If you want to reduce the costs of getting a patent by up to $13,400 without losing the valuable insight of an attorney, sign up for Rocket Lawyer patent services. If you only need a provisional patent, you can join Rocket Lawyer’s membership program for $39.99/month to access an application template, have a 30-minute attorney consultation, and get a discount on Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorneys.
Who a Patent Is Right For
Patents are costly and often unnecessary, so consider whether a patent is necessary before committing resources to an application. Patents are right for inventors, companies looking for a competitive edge, or those trying to increase their business’ value or protect a valuable idea. If you don’t fall under certain categories, save costs by avoiding the process.
A patent is right for you if:
- You’re an inventor: Without a patent application, an inventor can only protect their intellectual property by entering confidentiality agreements with everyone they talk to about their inventions. This can hinder the peer review process and limit the exchange of helpful feedback between inventors.
- You want to protect your idea from competitors: A patent isn’t required for you to sell products or services related to your invention. However, a patent can give you a market advantage by preventing competitors from stealing your valuable ideas.
- You want to add value to your business: Obtaining a patent will allow you to license the protected technology to competitors and add value to your company. For example, IBM increased its overall revenue by an impressive 3,300% between 1990 and 2017 by licensing its technology.
Though a patent can increase your business’ value and make you more competitive, you don’t need a patent to sell products or services related to your idea. Before hiring an attorney or paying filing fees, make sure you actually need a patent. Avoiding the patent process altogether can save you and your small business thousands of dollars.
Pros & Cons of Getting a Patent
Patents are an excellent way to protect intellectual property but aren’t always the best option. There are several advantages of filing a patent, such as increased credibility and competitive edge, but the filing process is extremely expensive and doesn’t offer permanent protection. Understand the pros and cons of obtaining a patent before beginning the application process.
Pros of Getting a Patent
The pros of getting a patent include:
- Security: Makes your investment worth it because it prevents people from stealing your idea.
- Intellectual property: Once patented, an invention becomes your intellectual property.
- Competitive edge: Holding a patent ensures that your competitors cannot legally use the same design or rely on the same functionality as your invention.
- Credibility and business value: A patent can improve your chances of selling an idea or service based on your invention because competitors are prohibited from stealing your intellectual property.
- Revenue: Though not required to sell a product or service, patents give inventors rights to revenue from licenses to their inventions.
Cons of Getting a Patent
The cons of getting a patent include:
- Lengthy application process: The application process for obtaining a patent can last several years.
- Liability/patent defense: When you obtain a patent, you become responsible for defending it.
- Transparency: Filing for a patent requires you to make every proprietary detail of your invention public.
- Limited coverage: A patent only gives you rights to the specific product described in the patent.
- Maintenance: Maintenance fees are required at three times during the life of a patent and add to the overall cost of a patent.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What Is a Poor Man’s Patent?
A poor man’s patent is a document containing details of your invention that you mail to yourself and keep unopened. The patent applies the first-to-invent approach and uses the letter’s postmark as the invention’s date of conception. The first-to-invent system was replaced with a first-to-file rule in May 2013, rendering the poor man’s patent obsolete.
2. Should I Get a Provisional or Nonprovisional Patent?
We recommend provisional patents as a lower cost way to protect intellectual property while developing an invention. They’re a great way to protect inventions while completing development, arranging financing, or preparing the nonprovisional application. Though more inexpensive than nonprovisional patents, they only last for 12 months, so you’ll still have to pay for a nonprovisional application.
3. How Do I Find a Patent Attorney?
If you need a professional to guide you through the patent application process, check out Rocket Lawyer’s Find a Lawyer feature. Just choose “Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents” in the pull-down menu and select your state. Rocket Lawyer will provide contact information, qualifications, and standard fees for local patent attorneys.
4. How Much Does It Cost to Patent an Idea?
Generally, expect the cost of patenting an idea to range from $1,500 to $15,000-plus. However, the cost of patenting an idea depends on the type of patent, the complexity of the idea, and whether you hire an attorney. Use a service like Rocket Lawyer to save up to $13,400 over hiring a traditional attorney.
5. How Much Does It Cost to Patent a Name?
It is not possible to patent a name, because patents are only appropriate for inventions, designs, and plants. In order to protect your name or brand, utilize the trademark registration service. For more information on trademarking a name, check out our guide on the costs of registering a U.S. federal trademark.
Bottom Line: How Much Does a Patent Cost?
Obtaining a patent is the best way to protect your inventions. Patent costs include USPTO fees, lawyer fees, and maintenance fees and vary based on the type of patent, your invention’s complexity, and whether you hire an attorney. When asking yourself how much does a patent cost, expect to pay from $1,500 to $15,000 or more.
Because filing a patent application is complicated, we recommend hiring a professional. However, patent lawyers can cost more than $10,000. Save up to $13,400 by using Rocket Lawyer to prepare, review, and submit your patent application for between $1,599 and $7,299, including filing costs.