How much does it cost to patent an idea? It depends. There are two ways you can patent an idea:
Method 1: Write and file your own patent application (the cheapest way) - total cost about $1,000 for most inventors to get an issued patent (USPTO government fees only). A provisional type application is only about $150 to file but this only stays pending for 12 months and is only a 'placeholder' type application.
Method 2: Hire a registered patent attorney or registered patent agent to write and file a patent application for you - total cost $5,000-$15,000 mostly in attorney billing time. Final cost will vary depending on the complexity of the invention and the type of firm you are working with. In general, larger law firms may be more expensive than smaller firms or solo providers.
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 2022):
Cost to Patent an Idea - Timeline
- File provisional patent application - USPTO fee $60 (updated for 2023) (for most inventors, assumes micro entity status)
- File non-provisional patent application - USPTO fees (filing fee, search fee, etc.) about $364 (assumes micro entity discount)
- Patent Issue fee - USPTO fee $250
- Maintenance fee (due 3.5 years after your patent is allowed) - USPTO fee $500
- Maintenance fee (due 7.5 years after your patent is allowed) - USPTO fee $940
- Maintenance fee (due 11.5 years after your patent is allowed) - USPTO fee $1,925
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) :
(sorry this image above is out dated, see list above for new fees)
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. 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.
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Suggested Next Reading: Advantages and Disadvantages of a provisional patent
By Brad Fach