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Learn the Cost of Patenting a New Idea or Invention

written by: KimberLeo•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 11/9/2011

How much it costs to patent an invention is moot for inventions that stand to make millions in retail or licensing fees. Inventions with unknown retail applications may apply for a provisional patent to test the market.

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    Purpose of Patent

    The cost to patent an invention can be worth every penny. A patent grants ownership to an inventor for the design and technology of a new product. Patents are good for 20 years from the day the patent application is filed with the US Patent Office, though a patent is seldom issued within months of the application. While the application is being reviewed and processed, the inventor is given a "patent pending" status protecting himself as the creator and owner of the product from the application date. Others are prevented from manufacturing and selling a product based on the design specs unless they have a license from the patent holder.

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    Early US Patent Certificate.
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    US Patent Office Fees

    How much the costs are to patent an invention depends on the size of the entity intending to patent the product. The US Patent Office has two fee filing schedules based on whether the applicant is a small entity or not.

    Qualified small entities are allowed to pay reduced fees. Entities qualifying for small entity fees include individuals, IRS recognized 501(c)3 organizations and small businesses meeting the standards of the Small Business Administration.

    The cost to file a patent is $330 for the basic filing fee, which is reduced to $165 for small entities. Small entities may file electronically and save even more with a fee just $82. These fees are for an US patent only.

    For entities seeking international patent rights, the cost of the patent increases another $1,061. This filing is imperative for products that are sold or manufactured overseas.

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    Maintenance Fees- Utility Patents

    Utility patent holders must pay maintenance fees at intervals of owning the patent, to retain their patent rights. The intervals are at 3 1/2, 7 1/2 and 11 1/2 years. The patent ownership costs $1,510 per interval, or $755 for small entities. Utility patents are different than design patents. The utility patent protects how a product works, while a design patent protects the look and feel of a product.

    Prior to filing a utility patent, a provisional patent application can be sought, saving costs to patent the invention outright. Provisional application fees are $220 and $110 respectively. Search fees to locate similar patents range from $50 to $540 per patent search but are necessary to ensure you are not infringing on another patent.

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    Legal Help

    It is entirely possible to complete the filings yourself through the US Patent and Trademark Office. However, with so many details and applications to keep track of, and so much riding on owning the patent without infringement, many inventors seek the help of qualified patent attorneys. The cost of an attorney is in addition to all fees paid to the Patent Office. Most attorneys require hourly rates of $200 to $800 per hour to research and create patent applications, expedite the patent filing process and monitor the application to make sure there are no unexpected issues.

    There are discount legal services that do file patents for you online for a flat fee, but provide little more than giving you the proper documents and creating boiler plate applications. These flat fee services may be as low as $275 per patent.


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