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Navigating the Costs of a Patent

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For inventors, understanding how much a patent costs is a key part of the innovation process. This comprehensive guide dives into the various factors influencing patent costs, including insights into the services we provide our clients. 

Conducting a Prior Art Search: The First Financial Step

The initial step in the patent process, a prior art search, is much more than a formality; it is a strategic tool for defining the uniqueness of your invention. This search investigates existing patents and public disclosures to ensure your idea is novel and non-obvious. The depth and breadth of this search can significantly influence the direction and strength of your subsequent patent application. An extensive search might uncover similar inventions, allowing you to refine your application to emphasize what sets your invention apart.

Explore our Prior Art Search Services for a comprehensive understanding of how this essential step fits into your patent journey and its cost implications.

Choosing the Right Patent Application

The decision of which type of patent application to file is crucial to your patent strategy, impacting overall cost significantly. 

A provisional patent application is a cost-effective preliminary step designed for swift filing. This type requires fewer forms, no claims, and has lower fees at the USPTO, resulting in reduced expenditure. Typically, law firms charge between $3000.00 - $5000.00 to draft and file a provisional patent application, plus USPTO fees. Establishing an early filing date allows a year for further development of your invention and preparation for a nonprovisional application.

The next type of patent application is a non-provisional or utility patent application which must be filed within 12 months of the provisional patent application’s filing date.  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 assume 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 spent just to file! This cost does not include the USPTO fees. Understanding these differences is crucial for budgeting and planning your patent process effectively. Our Patent Application Services offer comprehensive assistance to navigate these choices, ensuring that your patent application aligns with your innovation goals and financial considerations.

Ongoing Costs: Maintenance Fees and Legal Representation

After you file a non-provisional patent, an examiner at the USPTO will review the application against the rules and regulations for patentability. 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 every rejection or objection described in the NFOA.  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 – $8000.

After the NFOA is filed, the examiner at the USPTO will review the responses and either (1) allow the patent application or (2) reject/object to 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 non-final office actions, need to be responded to in the allotted time outlined in the communication.  The response will cost you another $3000 – $8000 in fees.

At this point, the examiner reviews the response to the final office action (which may encompass different procedures at the USPTO), 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 18-24 months before you receive an allowed patent, depending on how many patent applications are filed in the specific subject area of your invention. Note: This analysis does not include any additional procedures like a request for continued examination, an appeal, continuations, or continuation-in-part  and assumes no mishaps occur during the process.

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

Provisional + non-provisional + NFOA + FOA = $15000 – $29,000. Additionally, potential legal costs should be considered. These may arise from enforcing your patent against infringement or defending its validity. Navigating these aspects effectively is key to maximizing the value of your patent. 

Our team is here to help you understand these ongoing costs and how to effectively manage them. Learn more here.

Other Considerations: What if I Have an International Patent?

When considering international patent protection, the cost equation expands to include various global factors. Each country has its own patent office with distinct fee structures and legal requirements. For instance, in some regions, translation costs can add significantly to the overall expense, and each jurisdiction has its own maintenance fees and timelines. Additionally, international filings often involve working with local patent agents or attorneys, which can further impact the cost. Navigating these international waters requires expertise and strategic planning. 

Our expert team helps you understand and manage the costs of securing international patents, making this complex process more navigable and efficient. For more on our international patent service, check out our PCT Patents page.

Other Considerations: Technology Complexity

Your technology's complexity is a significant factor in determining patent costs. More intricate or advanced technologies often necessitate a deeper level of detail in the patent application, including comprehensive descriptions and specific claims. Such technologies may also require expert testimonies or specialized knowledge to accurately articulate their novelty and functionality. This level of detail can result in higher preparation costs due to the additional time and expertise required. 


In conclusion, effectively managing the costs associated with patenting is a complex task that requires tailored strategies. Each invention presents unique challenges and opportunities, which necessitates a personalized approach. 

At Menlo Park Patents, our team consists of experienced serial entrepreneurs who deeply understand the expenses involved in starting a company, including those associated with intellectual property. Recognizing these challenges, we have developed specialized processes and patent application packages. These are designed to assist entrepreneurs in achieving their patent objectives while adhering to 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: Starting @ $1,200.00, this is predicated on the inventor providing a detailed invention disclosure which competing law firms also require.
  • Non-provisional: Starting @$2,475 – $5,585, this is predicated on the inventor providing a detailed invention disclosure which competing law firms also require.
  • Non-Final Office Actions: Starting @ $1,895.00
  • Final Office Actions: Starting @ $2,895.00
  • Total: $7,914 – $12,424

This is compared to the $14,000 – $29,000 spent with traditional law firms.  Our pricing is transparent, clear, and fixed. Unlike traditional law firms, we do not charge for phone calls, emails, or communication between clients. Additionally, we also provide founders and entrepreneurs with ways that they can further save and avoid additional costs. But what really facilitates our competitive pricing advantage is the heavy investment into our proprietary streamlined process and A.I. tools.  This guarantees that our clients receive top-notch and high-quality patent applications at almost a 50% reduction!

Learn more about our comprehensive services and how we can help you protect and maximize the potential of your inventions. Remember, in the world of patents, every step matters - and the right guidance can make all the difference.