How much does a patent cost?
Ashburn, VA

How much does a patent cost?

Ashburn, VA

How much does a patent cost?

$5,000 – $10,000 cost to patent a simple idea
$10,000 – $15,000 cost to patent a moderate idea
$15,000 – $35,000+ cost to patent a complex idea

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$5,000 – $10,000 cost to patent a simple idea

$10,000 – $15,000 cost to patent a moderate idea

$15,000 – $35,000+ cost to patent a complex idea

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Tamatha Hazen
Written by
Tamatha Hazen
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tara Farmer

Patent cost

A patent costs $5,000 to $10,000 for a simple invention, $10,000 to $15,000 for a moderate invention, and up to $35,000+ for complex or software-related inventions. A provisional patent costs $60 to $300 if you file it yourself or $2,000 to $5,000 if you hire an attorney. A design patent costs $3,000 to $6,000, including attorney fees.

Utility patent costs
Invention type Attorney fees for filing Examples
Very simple $5,000 – $8,000 Paper clip, Ice cube tray, drinking straw
Simple $8,000 – $10,000 Flashlight, dog leash, smartphone case with stand
Moderate $10,000 – $15,000 Power tool, wearable device, self-watering plant pot
Complex $15,000 – $20,000 Solar-powered lighting system, Wi-Fi controlled sprinkler system
Highly complex $25,000 – $35,000+ New battery technology, advanced medical device
Software related $15,000 – $30,000 Mobile app, tax preparation software

Get free estimates from patent attorneys near you.

Cost of a patent by type

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is responsible for granting patents to protect inventions and registering trademarks. They ensure that patents and trademarks meet legal requirements, safeguard intellectual property rights, and promote innovation in the United States.

Cost of a patent by type
Patent type Average cost* Purpose
Provisional $2,000 – $5,000 Provides a filing date for an invention without a formal patent claim
Utility $10,000 – $20,000 Protects the functional aspects of an invention
Design $3,000 – $6,000 Safeguards the ornamental design of an object
Plant $5,000 – $10,000 Pertains to new plant varieties created through human intervention

*Including attorney fees

Provisional Patent cost

A provisional patent is the least expensive option and costs $60 to $300 in USPTO fees alone or $2,000 to $5,000 to have a patent attorney complete the application. The provisional patent protects your idea with "patent pending" status for 1 year, during which time you can make progress and prepare your nonprovisional patent application.

Utility Patent cost

A basic utility patent, also called a nonprovisional patent, costs $10,000 to $20,000 on average, depending on the complexity of the idea. Utility patents are crucial for protecting new or improved products, processes, or machines. They grant exclusive rights to inventors, preventing others from making, using, or selling the invention without permission.

Utility patents require a detailed description, claims, and drawings and last up to 20 years from the filing date, with maintenance fees.

Design Patent cost

A design patent provides legal protection for the visual aspects of an item, such as its shape or decoration, rather than how it works. These patents cost $3,000 to $6,000 on average, including attorney fees.

Design patents require drawings or photographs illustrating the design and last 14 to 15 years with no ongoing maintenance fees.

Plant Patent cost

A plant patent costs $5,000 to $10,000 with attorney fees. This protection prevents others from reproducing, selling, or using an asexually reproduced novel plant variety.

Plant patents last for 20 years and require detailed botanical descriptions and drawings highlighting the unique features of the plant.

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Patent application cost

The process of obtaining a patent can be long and costly, with numerous fees and additional expenses. The standard USPTO application fees cost $1,760 to $3,020, depending on the type of patent you apply for. Costs greatly increase if you use a patent attorney to complete the patent application for you.

The following table details the common United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fees.

Patent application costs
USPTO fees Utility patent fee Design patent fee Plant patent fee
Basic filing fee $320 $220 $220
Patent search $700 $160 $440
Patent examination $800 $640 $660
Patent issue and publication $1,200 $740 $840
Total application costs $3,020 $1,760 $2,160

Data source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) fee schedule

The table lists standard USPTO fees, but individuals and organizations with small or micro entity status are eligible for reduced fees:

  • Small entity status is for individuals, small businesses (with fewer than 500 employees), or nonprofit organizations. This status offers a 60% discount on most patent-related fees.

  • Micro entity status is granted to those who qualify based on gross income or university associations. Micro entities receive an 80% discount on most patent-related fees.

Basic filing fee

Application filing fees for a patent cost $220 to $320, depending on the type of patent you are applying for. This fee covers the initial processing of the patent application.

A patent search with opinion costs $160 to $700 for the USPTO fees alone. Patent attorneys charge $1,500 to $3,000+ to conduct the search, depending on how complex your idea or invention is.

A patent search helps inventors see if their ideas are new and different enough to get a patent. While you can conduct this search on your own for free, it is a time-consuming process with numerous steps to follow.

  • The patentability search involves scouring databases of existing patents and publications to determine if similar inventions already exist.

  • The patentability opinion is a report indicating whether the invention could get a patent based on the search results and clarifying which parts of the invention may qualify.

Patent examination

The USPTO patent examination fee costs $640 to $800 and covers subsequent review by the examiner after the patent search. The examination determines if the claimed invention meets the requirements for patentability.

Patent issue and publication fees

The patent issue and publication fee averages $740 to $1,200 and is due once the patenting agency approves your application. This fee covers administrative costs associated with printing and issuing the patent.

Maintenance fees

Once a patent owner receives a patent, they must pay periodic maintenance fees to the USPTO to maintain exclusive rights for the 20-year term. These fees are due at specific intervals: 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years after the patent grant date.

  • $2,000 due at 3.5 years ($800 for small entity and $400 for micro entity)

  • $3,760 due at 7.5 years ($1,504 for small entity and $752 for micro entity)

  • $7,700 due at 11.5 years ($3,080 for small entity and $1,540 for micro entity)

Failing to pay the required maintenance fees causes the patent to lapse or expire early, terminating your right to take legal action against anyone who uses your patented invention without your permission.

Patent attorney fees

In addition to the actual patent fees, most inventors hire a patent attorney to help with the process. Patent attorney fees are $300 to $1,200 per hour, depending on the location, experience, and size of the law firm. These fees cover the cost of preparing and filing the patent application, including drafting the specification, claims, and other required documents.

While it's possible to file a patent application without legal assistance, hiring a registered patent attorney or agent will ensure a smoother process and better protection of your invention.

A businesswoman signing a patent application with her attorney present.
A businesswoman signing a patent application with her attorney present.

Drawing fees

Patent drawings are visual representations of an invention submitted with a patent application to illustrate its features and operation. Professional patent illustrators charge $500 to $2,000 or more, depending on the complexity and the number of drawing sheets needed.

Patent cost factors

Factors that impact the cost of a patent include:

Get free estimates from patent attorneys near you.
  • Complexity of the invention: More complex inventions require more time for the attorney to understand the technology, conduct a thorough prior art search, and draft the patent application, leading to higher costs.

  • Attorney experience: Attorneys with more experience and expertise in the relevant technology area typically charge higher fees than less experienced attorneys.

  • Technology area: Certain technology areas, such as biotechnology, computer software, and telecommunications, tend to be more complex and require attorneys with specialized expertise, leading to higher fees.

  • Law firm location: Patent attorneys in major metropolitan areas typically charge more than those in smaller cities or rural areas.

  • Number of claims: Patent applications with a large number of claims tend to be more expensive because each claim requires careful drafting and consideration.

  • Number of drawings: More detailed drawings and illustrations mean higher drafting costs, especially for mechanical or design patents.

  • International filing: If you plan to file patent applications in multiple countries, there will be additional costs for foreign filings, translations, and working with foreign associates.

  • Response to office actions: After filing, the patent office may issue office actions requiring responses, which can significantly increase legal fees.

  • Continuation or divisional applications: If you need to file a continuation or divisional application based on the original application, additional fees apply.

Patent FAQs

What is a patent?

A patent is a government-issued exclusive right granted to an inventor, preventing others from making, using, or selling their invention for a specific period. In return for this protection, the inventor must disclose the invention details to the public, allowing others to learn from them and build upon it while prohibiting direct copying.

What is the cheapest way to get a patent?

The cheapest way to obtain a patent is to complete the process yourself instead of hiring an attorney. If you opt to file the patent application yourself, be sure to take these critical steps:

  • Keep clear, detailed records of every step involved in the process of your invention.

  • Before you begin the application process, make sure your invention qualifies for a patent. For an invention to be patentable, it must be statutory, new, useful, and non-obvious.

  • Explore the demand for your invention in terms of its commercial potential. There's no point in spending hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars on a patent if the marketplace won't respond.

  • Conduct a thorough patent search to ensure that you are not impeding on a patent that has already been issued.

  • Prepare your application and file it with the USPTO. Take your time with this step, as you'll want to ensure everything is correct.

How long does a patent last?

A utility patent lasts for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed. New design patents, which focus on how something looks, last for 15 years from the date the patent is granted. Plant patents for new plant varieties last for 20 years.

What does patent pending mean?

"Patent pending" means someone has filed an application to get exclusive rights for their invention, but the patent has not yet been granted. This notification serves as a caution to others that copying the idea might lead to legal action.

Why should I use a patent lawyer?

Most patent attorneys have advanced technical degrees in fields like engineering, computer science, or biology that allow them to understand your invention and describe it properly in the application. While an attorney will increase your final cost, they can significantly help during the application process and improve your chances of approval.

What rights does a patent owner have?

As a patent owner, you have specific rights about your invention, which include:

  • The right to license your patent to third parties and, in turn, collect royalties

  • The right to sell your patent and invention in general

  • The right to sue those who infringe on your patent

  • The right to manufacture and sell products covered by the patent

United States patent filing example documents
United States patent filing example documents

Tips for filing a patent application

By following these tips, you can reduce the cost of getting a patent while still protecting your invention:

  • Choose the right patent type: There are different types of patents, such as utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Understanding the distinctions will help you choose the most suitable protection for your invention.

  • Conduct a patentability search: Before filing a patent, conduct a thorough patent search to see if similar inventions already exist. This will help you determine the novelty of your invention and avoid wasting time and money on a pointless patent.

  • Consider professional help: The patent process can be complex, so consulting with a patent attorney or agent can be advantageous. They can guide you through the legalities, improve your application's strength, and increase your chances of success.

  • Document everything: Maintain detailed records of your invention process, including conception, design, development, and testing. This documentation can be crucial evidence when filing your application.

  • Strive for clarity: When writing your application, ensure it's clear, concise, and comprehensive. The written description should provide a detailed explanation of your invention, and the claims should clearly define what you're seeking patent protection for.

  • Be thorough: Strive to be thorough in your application. Include high-quality drawings or visuals to complement your written descriptions.

  • Make sure your patent is complete: Ensure that your patent application is meticulously prepared to avoid common pitfalls that could lead to rejection.

  • Set and stick to a clear budget: Establish a budget for the patenting process and communicate it clearly to your patent attorney.

  • Maintain confidentiality: Once you publicly disclose your invention, it can jeopardize your ability to patent it. Keep your idea under wraps until you've filed your application.

Questions to ask a patent attorney

By asking these questions, you can evaluate the patent attorney's expertise, communication style, fees, and overall approach to the patent process:

  • What is your experience in my particular field of technology?

  • How many patent applications have you filed in my technology area?

  • What is your typical process for preparing and filing a patent application?

  • How do you conduct patent searches, and what is the cost of a comprehensive search?

  • What are your estimated fees for preparing and filing a provisional patent application? A non-provisional application?

  • What additional costs should I expect after filing (e.g., office actions, continuation applications)?

  • How do you bill for your services—an hourly rate, flat fee, or a combination?

  • Can you provide examples of your work (redacted if necessary) for patents you've filed?

  • What is your success rate in obtaining patents for your clients?

  • How do you keep clients informed about the status of their applications?

  • What is the estimated timeline for my patent application?

  • Do you have experience with international patent filings?

  • What is your policy regarding conflicts of interest with other clients?

  • Who else from your firm would be involved in my patent matter?

  • Can you provide references or testimonials from previous clients?

  • How do you maintain confidentiality and protect my intellectual property?