Menlo Park Patents Blog:

How Much Does a Patent Cost?

Scroll to
Learn More

When you think of a new idea the first thing many people think of is either building it or protecting it.  The thought among several inventors is that they do not want to get their new idea stolen or taken away from them by a competitor or interested party.  So, the inventor will normally send out a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to everyone they speak to about the invention.  It is important to remember that patent practitioners normally do not sign NDAs as we are not in the business of stealing ideas.  We are in the business of protecting ideas for our clients with patents and a client is protected by attorney/agent client privilege.

Ideas are valuable assets to a person because they can be built into an invention then that invention can be transformed into a successful product and company.  In order to protect your ideas legally, an inventor or startup founder needs to file a patent application on the invention.  As a point of clarification, trademarks do not protect your invention but rather the tradename of the invention or resulting product of the invention while patents can protect how the invention works or looks.

Patent applications are assets to a company as it can protect how a product works, looks, and any underlying functions of a product.  Think about how many times you have heard that an iPhone has hundreds of patents associated with it.  If Apple, Google, Facebook, and other tech  giants have patents on their innovations then it makes sense for the individual inventor and startup founder to also consider patent protection as a part of their business growth.  The word among entrepreneurial communities though is the astronomical cost that is commonly associated with the process to file and obtain patent protection.  There is no doubt about it: patents are not cheap and require professionals with specific knowledge and understanding of the USPTO laws and regulations to file and prosecute them.  So how much should you budget for a patent application and how can you decrease that cost?  How does Menlo Park Patents stack up against the competition?

In order to estimate the cost of securing patent protection for your invention.  We first need to understand the process to obtaining patent protection on your invention.  The entire process starts with a provisional patent application.

A provisional patent application is an application that is used for three main reasons:

  1. Secure a priority date at the USPTO. The U.S. patent system is a first to file system meaning the first inventor to file on a specific invention can claim priority or the rights to exclude others from using or selling the invention.  Any inventor that files a patent after the 1st inventors filing for the same invention has lost the race and the  1st inventors filing will be considered prior art to the 2nd inventors filing.  So securing a filing date as soon as possible is important to protect your invention.
  2. Obtain patent pending. Any invention can be labeled as patent pending once a provisional patent application is filed.
  3. Provisionals require less investment than a non-provisional patent application. Startups and new products are high risk ventures.  It has been said many times, that the first milestone to achieve for entrepreneurs is to determine if there is a market for their product.  Provisional patent applications get entrepreneurs on the path toward patent protection with budget consciousness which allows minimal investment into the new startup venture.

So, now that we understand what a provisional is, we can now discuss the cost.  A provisional patent application is meant to be filed as soon as possible and quickly.  Provisionals require less forms, no claims, and less fees at the USPTO which means less money spent filing them. A provisional patent application is also not examined by the USPTO. Law firms normally charge $3000.00 – $5000.00 to draft and file a provisional patent application plus USPTO fees.

The next step on the road to patent protection is a non-provisional or utility patent application.  This assumes that the entrepreneur has found that the resulting product for the invention filed in the provisional patent application has a need in the market.  The non-provisional patent application requires more time to draft and prepare for filing as there is significantly more information required to fulfill the requirements of the USPTO.  For instance, while a provisional does not need a claim to be filed, a non-provisional requires at least one claim to be filed, drawings or figures of the invention and a specification.  For this reason, non-provisionals can typically cost an entrepreneur a hefty $6000 – $15,000 spend and can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to draft.   These costs are assuming that there are no late forms, or missing portions of the application which will result in the applicant incurring additional fees.

To recap at this point:

Provisional + non-provisional = $9,000 – $20,000 total spend just to file! This cost does not include the USPTO fees.

The process though is not done.  After you file a non-provisional patent an examiner at the USPTO will review the application against the rules and regulations for patentability and if all the rules are not satisfied then a non-final office action will be sent.  A non-final office action is the first “report” issued after the initial review by a USPTO examiner.  A non-final office action (NFOA) requires a response to each and every rejection or objection described in the NFOA.  In order to respond, an experienced patent attorney or patent agent should be hired.  Naturally this comes with an additional cost where traditional law firms charge between $3000 – $6000.

After the NFOA is filed, the examiner at the USPTO will review the responses and either allow the patent application or reject/object the patent application again.  If another rejection or objection occurs, a FINAL office action (FOA) will be mailed to the applicant or inventor.  Final office actions like the non-final office actions need to be responded to in the allotted time set forth on the communication.  The response will cost you another $3000 – $6000 in fees.

At this point, the examiner reviews the final office action response again, and either allows the patent application or maintains the rejections.  For the sake of keeping things simple, let’s assume the patent application is allowed.  Once a notification of issuance is sent out, there is a time frame to pay the issue fee for the USPTO.  That issue fee depends on an inventor’s qualification as a micro, or small entity.

This entire process can take anywhere from 2-3 years before you receive an allowed patent and really depends on how many patent applications are filed in the specific subject area of your invention.  Naturally less popular areas will take a faster time to process at the USPTO.  This analysis does not include any additional procedures like a request for continued examination, an appeal, continuations, or continuation-in-part.

To recap here is a breakdown of the total cost spent so far not including any USPTO fees:

Provisional + non-provisional + NFOA + FOA = $15000 – $29,000.

Remember that this spend can take over the course of two to 3 years.  You might be wondering, why even pay for a patent anyway or how will I cover the cost which is detailed in this article.

On the upside, Menlo Park Patents has come to the realization that startups and entrepreneurs operate on limited budgets and need patent protection to raise capital, or prevent competitors from entering their market.  Our team is made of serial entrepreneurs that know all too well, the costs of starting a company and naturally the costs associated with intellectual property which is why we developed processes and patent application packages to help entrepreneurs achieve their patent goals within a realistic budget over time. Let’s take a look at our cost analysis using the above example (this does not include USPTO fees and costs may vary depending on the type of invention):

Provisional: $949.00, this is predicated on the inventor providing a detailed invention disclosure which competing law firms also require.

Non-provisional: $2,475 – $6,985, this is predicated on the inventor providing a detailed invention disclosure which competing law firms also require.

NFOA: $1,595.00

FOA = $2,895.00

Total: $7,914 – $12,424

This is compared to the $14,000 – $29,000 spend with traditional law firms.  Our pricing is transparent, clear, and fixed. So there are no surprises to the entrepreneurs which allows for better budgeting.  Unlike traditional law firms we do not charge for phone calls, emails, or communication between the clients. Additionally, we also provide founders and entrepreneurs ways that they can further save and avoid additional costs.  For instance, providing a substantial and well detailed description of your invention helps practitioners when drafting and reduces the time spent figuring out what the invention is.  Providing your own drawings in the right format avoids the cost for a patent agent to draw your figures.

We also noticed that there are a lot of really great ideas out there.  Those ideas have the potential to blossom into successful companies and provide a great return for the entrepreneur and founder.  To get to the point of a successful company requires patience, perseverance and naturally capital.  To ease the burden of an entrepreneur’s budget, we created the Menlo Park Patents Investment program where our experienced patent agents provide patent services to qualified startups as an investment in their venture.  This offsets the hefty upfront costs of IP and allows the entrepreneurs to focus on more on building their venture.