What are the out-of-pocket costs to prepare, file, and maintain a US utility patent?
While the attorney’s fees for the preparation and filing of your US patent application might only cost you $5,000USD or so, when you include ALL of the out-of-pocket costs throughout the life of your patent application and patent, such as costs for preparation, drawings, filing, office actions and associated patent office fees, additional claims, grant fees, and ongoing maintenance fees for a standard non-provisional (utility) patent in the United States, your costs can be $15,000 to $30,000 US dollars (and even higher in complicated scenarios). Yes, patenting is surprisingly expensive. Why? Well, keep in mind, patents are the most complicated legal document to draft and costly to both obtain and maintain. In preparing and filing a patent application, you have legal fees, fees for patent drawings, and government fees, which can easily add up to $8,000 to $10,000 thousand US dollars depending upon the complexity of your invention. And, during the two to four years before a patent application is finally granted or rejected, your lawyer or patent agent will invest more time in fighting for the broadest possible protection, resulting in additional legal fees and government fees each step of the way; easily another $2,000 to $7,000 USD. Also, there are grant fees and periodic maintenance fees in the US which will cost between $5,000 and $13,000 throughout the life of your patent. And, depending upon your circumstances, there are many other USPTO fees that can occur along the way. Now, if you’re going to be a patent owner, you also need to appreciate that since patents are only useful in the country that grants you the patent, you’ll typically need to file your patent application in more than one country. With each new country comes additional legal fees, government filing fees, and also translation fees. Depending upon where you file, your expenses could be 3 to 4 times what you paid in the US. And, those other nations also have grant fees and periodic maintenance fees for you to pay along the way. Now, it’s also worth mentioning that these costs are just for the preparation, filing, and maintenance of your patent. These costs do not include your time in preparing a thorough invention disclosure and interacting with patent counsel throughout the years of patent prosecution, pre-filing prior art searching, and both defending your patent from invalidity attacks (if such attacks are made) and enforcing your patent against infringers (if such infringement occurs).