How Much Does a Utility Patent Cost?

The cost of a granted utility patent can range anywhere from $755 to over $20,000. The cost of a utility patent varies based on the complexity of the invention, professional services used, and the status of the inventor.

Simplified utility patent application cost estimate ($):

Type of FeeCost
Preliminary patent search$500-$1000
USPTO fees$755-$3020+
Drawing fees$30-$200
Patent Attorney fees$2000-$8000+
Total Cost$3,285-$12,220+

Utility Patent Fees

The various fees associated with receiving a granted utility patent can be broken down into two categories. (1) Fees charged by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and (2) fees charged by professionals to assist with the application process. These fees include:

  • USPTO application fees
  • Preliminary patentability searching
  • Patent attorney fees
  • Patent drawing fees

USPTO fees must be paid before the USPTO will grant a patent. Utilizing a patent professional is not mandatory to apply for a patent. However, it is extremely difficult to receive a patent without the help of patent professionals. It is always advisable to consult with a patent attorney before proceeding with a patent application.

Cost to Prepare a Utility Patent

The cost to use patent professionals to prepare a utility patent application can be anywhere in the range of $2,000 to over $10,000. The cost varies with the complexity of the invention, services utilized, and patent attorney costs. An individual inventor may prepare the application on their own, which would only cost the time input.

Estimate of utility patent preparation cost ($):

Type of FeeCost
Preliminary patent search$500-$1000+
Drawing fees$30-$200
Patent Attorney fees$2000-$8000+
Total Cost$2,530-$9,200+

Preparing a utility patent includes costs for conducting a preliminary patentability search, patent drawings, and patent attorney fees. An inventor can use a patent attorney who can complete all the tasks required to prepare a utility patent for one fee. Alternatively, an inventor can find professionals to complete each step separately.

Preparation begins with a preliminary patentability search. A professional and thorough patentability search will range from $500-$1000.

While examining your patent application the USPTO will search every publicly available database to find out if your idea has been done before. Anything about your invention that has been done before is called “prior-art.”

Conducting a patentability search will uncover the prior-art that will be used against your application. A patentability search will help you make an informed decision when answering the following questions.

  1. Is filing an application worth it?
  2. What can I not claim in my application?
  3. How is my invention different?

The information from the patentability search will be used when writing your patent application to ensure yours is different from the prior-art. This information is also used to draft patent claims with strong protection.

Because a patentability search is so essential for a well drafted patent, it is recommended to conduct before drafting an application. If the patentability search shows that your invention has already been done, there is no need to waste time and money filing an application.

The next step is drafting the patent application. An application must have drawings, a description of the background and the invention, claims, and the appropriate paperwork.

Drawing fees can range from $30 to over $200 depending on the complexity of the invention. Drawings are typically done by a person with skill in graphic design software. The patent attorney drafting your application may prefer to work with a person they know and include the price in your bill. You may also find someone on your own to complete the drawings.

Expect to spend anywhere from $2,000 to over $8,000 in attorney’s fees. Patent attorneys provide advice, draft patent applications, prepare applications, fill out paperwork, submit applications, and work with the USPTO on an inventor’s behalf to get the application approved. The cost of a patent attorney varies based on the rate and time input of the attorney.

You must use the services of a registered patent attorney or patent agent if you don’t submit the application yourself. Traditional law firms will bill you in the range of $250-$400+ per hour depending on the location of the firm, the experience of the attorney, and their knowledge of the technological area. Modern law firms have begun to offer standardized pricing for patent services rather than billing by the hour.

Because patent law is federal law, patent attorneys may represent you from anywhere in the United States. You may consider selecting an attorney located in your state if you want them to provide other legal guidance or wish to meet in person. Keep in mind that attorneys in large metropolitan areas or large law firms likely will have a higher rate than those in smaller towns or smaller law firms.

Cost of a Utility Patent Application

The basic mandatory patent application fees can range from $755 to over $3,000. The USPTO may charge additional fees based on the technology, the size of the patent application, and for missing deadlines.

There are four basic mandatory fees that an applicant always will be charged by the USPTO.

  1. Filing fee
  2. Search fee
  3. Examination fee
  4. Issuance fee

Fees must be paid before the USPTO will move forward with that part of the application. Filing fees are due when you submit the application. Search and examination fees are due when the USPTO examines your patent application. If your application is approved, you must pay issuance fees before the patent will be granted. Fees are paid through an online portal on the USPTO website.

The standard fee is reduced for small and micro entities. Small entities include small businesses defined by the Small Business Act, any independent inventor, and a nonprofit organization.

Micro entities are small entities that:

  1. Have not been named as an inventor on more than 4 previously filed patent applications
  2. Do not have a gross income exceeding 3 times the median household income
  3. Are not under a contract to assign the patent to another entity that has income exceeding 3 times the median household income.

To gain status as a small or micro entity, the applicant must certify the qualification by submitting the appropriate form.

Mandatory USPTO fees for utility patents by entity type ($):

MicroSmallStandard
Filing80160320
Search175350700
Examination200400800
Issuance3006001200
Total Cost$755$1,510$3,020

The lowest possible amount an individual can pay to receive a granted patent is $755. This is only the case for a micro entity that prepares and files the application without any help. This case is unlikely to lead to a granted patent that offers strong protections for the invention.

Other fees the USPTO may charge include:

  • Late fees
  • Each additional claim (over 3)
  • Each extra sheet of the application (over 50)
  • Paper submissions
  • Genetic patent submissions
  • Re-examination or continued examination
  • Application deadline time extensions
  • Priority or expedited examination

These additional fees may not always apply, but when they do, they are mandatory. These fees may make the cost of a patent application far more than you were expecting. For example, a genetic patent requires the applicant submit a sequence listing of the genetic code. Depending on how large the genetic code is, the standard charge may be $10,500. 

Using a patent attorney to navigate the USPTO application fees and process is strongly recommended. A patent attorney can advise you on what fees you will have to pay at the beginning of the process.

Cost of Maintaining a Utility Patent

After you have received a utility patent, you must pay maintenance fees to keep the patent valid. Maintenance fees only apply to utility patents. Maintenance fees are charged to the owner of a patent at three different times: after 3.5 years; after 7.5 years; and 11.5 years after the date of application. If maintenance fees are not paid, the patent expires.

Maintenance fees by entity type ($):

Due DateCost
 MicroSmallStandard
3.5 years$500$1,000$2,000
7.5 years$940$1,880$3,760
11.5 years$1,925$3,850$7,700

Don’t forget that you are responsible for enforcing your patent. If someone copies the invention covered by your patent, you can sue them to stop and recover money damages. The cost of litigating a patent infringement lawsuit can be very expensive, costing even more than applying for the patent.

Sheldon Brown

Sheldon received his training of the patent system at the United States Patent & Trademark Office. He works with universities and consultants to provide analytics and guidance for technology commercialization from patents.

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