How Much Does a Patent Cost?

The process of obtaining a patent can be a complex and costly affair, but it is essential for protecting your inventions. A patent secures your rights over your intellectual property and allows you to leverage it for business advantage. However, it’s crucial to understand that the cost of getting a patent is not just a one-time fee, but it includes multiple charges like filing fees, attorney fees, and maintenance costs.

Different patent types, such as utility patents, design patents, and plant patents, also come with different cost structures. The process of obtaining each type varies, affecting the overall cost. Additionally, the complexity of your invention, the patent attorney’s expertise, and your geographical location are among the factors that can significantly influence the total cost.

The Costs of Different Patent Types

Understanding the various types of patents is crucial because each comes with different costs. The three main types of patents are utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.


  • Utility patents: the most common type, protect the functional aspects of an invention. They cover new and useful processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter. The cost of filing a utility patent can range from $3000 to $7000, depending on the complexity of the invention.
  • Design patents: protect the unique appearance of a product. They typically cost less than utility patents, ranging from $2000 to $3500. The lower cost is primarily because design patents usually require fewer claims, simplifying the patent application process.
  • Plant patents: these are relatively rare and protect asexually reproduced plants. The cost for filing a plant patent can range from $3000 to $5000.

Besides these three main types, you may also consider a provisional patents, which give inventors a year to refine their invention before filing a utility patent, also have a place in this discussion. They are significantly cheaper, with costs as low as $2000.

And if you need international patents, you will need to consider higher costs. These can be more expensive due to the need to file patent applications in multiple jurisdictions.

Example of Costs for a Patent

To illustrate the process, let’s consider the example of filing a utility patent in the United States.

The first cost that inventors encounter is the patent search cost, which can range from $1000 to $3000. This search is crucial to verify that your invention is unique.

Next comes the patent application drafting and filing cost. The application cost can range from $2000 to $15,000, depending largely on the complexity of the invention and the attorney’s rates. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also charges a filing fee, which can range from $75 to $1000, depending on the size of your enterprise.

Once your application is filed, the USPTO may request an examination fee ranging from $200 to $800. If your patent is granted, you will also need to pay an issue fee of $200 to $1000.

After the patent is granted, maintenance fees are required to keep the patent active. These are due 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after the patent is granted and can range from $400 to $7,400.

Therefore, for a typical utility patent, you might expect to pay between $10,000 and $30,000 over the life of the patent.

Costs of Hiring a Patent Lawyer

Retaining a patent lawyer can be one of the biggest expenses in the patent process.

The cost of a patent lawyer can vary significantly depending on their experience, expertise, and location. Typically, patent attorneys charge between $200 and $400 per hour. Given the complex nature of patent law and the high level of expertise required, it’s not uncommon for total attorney fees for a utility patent to reach $10,000 or more.

However, it’s crucial to remember that while these costs can be significant, a patent attorney can also save you money in the long run. A well-drafted patent application can prevent costly legal issues in the future and increase the likelihood of your patent being granted.

Factors Affecting Patent Costs

There are several key factors that can influence the cost of obtaining a patent.

Complexity of the Invention

The complexity of your invention can greatly influence the cost of your patent. More complex inventions require more time and expertise to describe in the patent application, resulting in higher attorney fees and possibly higher USPTO fees.

Geographic Location

Your geographic location can also affect the cost of your patent. For example, patent attorneys in large metropolitan areas often charge more than those in smaller towns.

Patent Attorney’s Expertise

The expertise of your patent attorney is another crucial factor. More experienced attorneys usually charge more, but they may also be more efficient and effective, potentially saving you money in the long run.

Type of Patent

As mentioned earlier, the type of patent you’re applying for – utility, design, plant, or provisional – will significantly affect your costs.

Number of Claims

The number of claims in your patent application can influence the cost. More claims mean a longer, more complex application, leading to higher costs.


USPTO fees, including filing fees, examination fees, issue fees, and maintenance fees, can significantly affect the overall cost of your patent.

International Filing

Filing for patents in multiple countries can dramatically increase your costs due to the need for translations and local attorneys.

Oppositions and Legal Challenges

If your patent application is opposed or legally challenged, you may incur significant additional legal costs.

Ways to Minimize Your Patent Costs

While the cost of getting a patent can be high, there are several strategies that you can use to minimize these costs.

Prior Art Search: Conducting a thorough prior art search before filing your patent application can save you money by identifying any existing patents that are similar to your invention, reducing the likelihood of a rejected application.

Provisional Patent Application: Filing a provisional patent application can provide a cheaper way to secure a filing date while you refine your invention or seek funding.

Using a Patent Agent Instead of a Patent Attorney: Patent agents can often provide the same services as patent attorneys at a lower cost. However, they may not have the same legal expertise, so this approach has its risks.

Filing in Only Necessary Jurisdictions: If international protection isn’t critical for your invention, you can save money by filing only in the jurisdictions that are most relevant to your business.

Regular Communication with Your Attorney: Maintaining regular communication with your attorney can help prevent misunderstandings and reduce the number of revisions needed, lowering your costs.

Preparation and Organization: Being well-prepared and organized can reduce the amount of time your attorney needs to spend on your application, thereby reducing your costs. This includes providing a detailed description of your invention, along with any drawings or diagrams, to your attorney.

Utilize USPTO’s Small Entity Programs: The USPTO offers reduced fees for small entities and micro-entities. If you qualify, these programs can significantly reduce your costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

As we wrap up our discussion on patent costs, let’s answer some frequently asked questions that can further enhance our understanding of this topic.

1. Can I apply for a patent without a patent lawyer? 

Yes, you can apply for a patent without a lawyer, often referred to as filing your own patent application. However, due to the complexity of patent laws and applications, it is typically recommended to hire a patent attorney or agent.

2. How long does it take to get a patent from the patent office? 

The time it takes to get a patent can vary, but on average, it takes about 24 months for a utility patent application to be processed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

3. How much does it cost to get a utility patent? 

The cost to get a utility patent can range from $10,000 to $30,000, depending on the complexity of the invention and the attorney’s fees. This includes search costs, application drafting and filing costs, examination fees, issue fees, and maintenance fees.

4. What is the difference between provisional and non-provisional patent applications? 

A provisional patent application is not a true patent but serves as a placeholder for a future non-provisional patent application. It allows you to establish an early filing date and maintain a “patent pending” status for 12 months without the need for formal patent claims.

5. Can I get a patent in multiple countries? 

Yes, you can get a patent in multiple countries. However, each country has its own patent laws and you must apply separately to each, which can significantly increase the cost of obtaining a patent.

6. What are design patent costs compared to utility patents? 

Design patents typically cost less than utility patents, ranging from $2,000 to $3,500. This is mainly because design patents usually require fewer claims, simplifying the patent application process.

Josh Fechter
Josh is the founder of The Product Company.