What is the Cost to File a Utility Patent?

 What is the Cost to File a Utility Patent? by Pat Werschulz

{4 minutes to read} A common question people have is: How much does it cost to get a utility patent? The answer: It depends. There are many variables that can affect the total cost, such as the complexity of the invention and how much prior art already exists. That said, some aspects can be discussed in general terms. Keep in mind, we are discussing utility patents, not design patents.

There are two components to filing a patent fee:

  1. The fee you pay the government
  2. The fee you pay your attorney

The government fee is actually comprised of three separate pieces:

  • A search fee
  • An examination fee
  • A filing fee

The government fees for small businesses and solo inventors are broken into tiers. Large businesses pay full freight, which is pricey, but if you qualify, you can get a significant reduction. The filing fee for a small business is $730. If you are starting out with a provisional, it is $130. So a provisional followed by a non-provisional means $860 total in government filing fees.

People who have not assigned their application to their business and make less than $160,900 gross annually (three times the U.S. median income) qualify as micro-entities. The “micro” filing fee is $400 for a non-provisional and $65 for a provisional. If you do it all in one step, you will need $400, but if you break it into two steps, you will need $465.  That is about ¼ of what large businesses pay.

Further Fees

Once you have paid the patent office a filing fee, and paid your attorney to make your application and handle other interactions with the patent office, you will get a Notice of Allowance. That basically means the patent office is saying, “Good job, you’ve got something worthwhile here. We will issue you a patent—after you pay us our fee.” Yes, that’s right, you have to pay again! That fee is $480 for a small business and $240 for a micro-entity.

And that’s not the end of it. There are maintenance fees to keep your patent in force, at 3 ½ , 7 ½, and 11 ½ years after the patent is issued. Currently, that first fee is $800 for a small business and $400 for a micro-entity, but they could always change in the future.

If you don’t pay your maintenance fees, you relinquish your right to sue someone for infringing on your patent. And you cannot license it or sell it. It might not seem fair, but most other countries require yearly maintenance fees, so in the long run, it is a bit of a bargain.

The good news is that the fees have actually decreased over the years, thanks to the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2012. The Act requires the Patent Office to look at the fees periodically and re-evaluate how much everything really costs.

Is there a way to save money?

Yes. File electronically! There is an extra $400 fee for the privilege of filing by paper—without exception.

Join me next time as we discuss what to expect from a patent attorney, as well as some opportunities for people of limited means to become patented inventors.

Please contact me with any questions about this process.

Patricia Werschulz

Patricia P. Werschulz

Werschulz Patent Law, LLC
23 North Avenue East
Cranford, NJ 07016
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