Archive for November 2013

Cost of Patenting – Fees for Filing a Patent Application

Cost of filing a patent application?

How much does it cost to file a patent application?  The total cost for filing a patent application depends on (1) the administrative fees and (2) the fees for professional services.  Administrative fees are those fees charged by the patent office.  Fees professional services are those charged for the attorney’s time and expenses in preparing the application.  Most of an applicant’s monetary cost comes from the fees for professional services. See #2, below.

1. Patent Cost – Filing Fees Charged by the United States Patent Office

Filing a provisional patent application costs $150 for a small entity.  Filing a utility patent application can cost as little as $730 for a small entity.
The above fees refer only to the patent office’s administrative fees.  Those administrative fees include the patent office’s filing fee, search fee, and examination fee.  The patent office changes these fees from time to time.  See the patent office’s current fee schedule.

2. Patent Cost – Fees for Professional Services

Most of the costs associated with filing a patent application come from the attorney’s fees for professional services.  Here, most attorneys charge by the number of hours required to perform the work.  Otherwise stated: How many hours of attorney time will it take to produce all of the paperwork required to file a (quality) patent application?  Take into consideration that a standard patent application consists of about 20-30 pages of highly technical and legal language—for example, definitions, scientific formulas, experimental details, etc.  Unless the inventor provides all of this content, it must be created by the attorney.  Drafting 20-30 pages of highly technical content can take lots of time.
I admit, this is a long winded way of saying “it depends.”  The cost for filing a patent application depends on the amount of work required by the attorney in translating the inventor’s disclosure into a legal document.  That amount of work will depend on the quality of the inventor’s disclosure.

The Applicant can Negotiate a Fixed Fee Arrangement

The time and energy associated with preparing a good patent application can vary considerably.  An inventor should always insist on having a candid conversation with the attorney about the fees before beginning work.  Conventionally, attorneys bill by the hour.  But, the applicant can insist on a “fee cap,” “fixed fee,” or “flat fee” arrangement.
As an inventor and quality-oriented patent drafter, I prefer the flat fee system because it encourages attorneys and inventors to engage one another during the drafting process.  I think that facilitating communication between the inventor and the attorney leads to better patent applications.  Preparing a good patent application is a team effort, aimed at converting a new technology into a legal definition.  Making each moment of conversation “billable” would seem to discourage dialog between the inventor and the attorney.