How much does it cost to patent an idea? It depends. There are two ways you can patent an idea:
- Write and file your own patent application (the cheapest way) - total cost about $900 for most inventors to get an issued patent (USPTO government fees only).
- Hire a registered patent attorney or patent agent to write and file a patent application for you (the most expensive way) - total cost $5,000-$10,000 mostly in attorney billing time.
If you choose to write and file your own patent application, the total cost of a patent is not that great. In this case the only fees you have to pay are the official US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees. For the typical invention and patent process, the cost of a patent looks something like this (updated 2020):
Cost to Patent an Idea - Timeline
- File provisional patent application - USPTO fee $70 (updated for 2020) (for most inventors, assumes micro entity status)
- File non-provisional patent application - USPTO fees (filing fee, search fee, etc.) about $430
- Patent Issue fee - USPTO fee $250
- Maintenance fee (due 3.5 years after your patent is allowed) - USPTO fee $400
- Maintenance fee (due 7.5 years after your patent is allowed) - USPTO fee $900
- Maintenance fee (due 11.5 years after your patent is allowed) - USPTO fee $1,850
Please note these fees are spread out and they do not occur all at once. A timeline might help visualize how much does it cost to patent an idea (also note this timeline has the older government filing fees so today's cost would be slightly higher) :
The cost of a patent shown above assumes that you are doing everything on your own and are not using a patent agent or attorney. If you want to hire a patent agent or patent attorney (recommended for non-provisional patent applications) then you will have to add on their billing rates. Most good patent lawyers will bill between $200-$400 per hour (cheap patent attorneys may bill less). This means that to prepare a new patent application you will be paying between $5,000-$10,000 in attorney fees plus the USPTO fees shown above.
Is there better (and cheaper) way to lower the cost of a patent?
I think so and that is why I created this website. You can have a patent attorney or agent teach you how to write and file your own patent application. This will save you $1,000s in attorney fees but you will still get a good, high quality patent application. I have created a video guide walking you through the entire process of writing and filing your own patent application. I will even include my time to answer your specific questions and review your patent application to make sure everything is perfect before its filed. You can read more about these services on my services page.
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Suggested Next Reading: Advantages and Disadvantages of a provisional patent
By Brad Fach