What is the Cost of a Utility Patent?

When it comes to securing a utility patent, the cost can vary depending on several factors. From attorney fees to government filing expenses, understanding the components that contribute to the overall cost is essential for inventors and businesses seeking to protect their valuable innovations.

A standard utility patent application typically ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 in cost. However, more extensive intellectual property filings may incur slightly higher expenses. Utility patents cover a wide range of intellectual property, including innovative software and processes, and offer protection for a duration of 20 years, subject to maintenance fees every three years. Aside from application fees, maintenance fees are also required for the first three years after the utility patent is granted.

For a more affordable option, inventors can consider filing a provisional patent application. Although less expensive than a full utility patent application, a provisional patent lacks formal claims and drawings. It is essential to follow up within one year to convert it into a utility patent; otherwise, it will lapse. This route is ideal for those with a less complex invention or in the early stages of development.

To delve deeper into the subject, you can refer to informative articles by Forbes and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Understanding the cost and options available can help inventors make informed decisions when seeking patent protection for their valuable innovations.

What Is a Utility Patent?

A utility patent is authorized for novel machines, processes, compositions of matter, drugs, chemicals, lifeforms, business methods, and manufacturing techniques. It is among the two primary patent categories granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). 

The other category is a design patent, which safeguards an invention’s design elements but not its functional features. Companies focused on intellectual property must diligently protect their inventions to retain exclusive rights for manufacturing and profits. Patent protection plays a vital role in establishing a company’s value and attracting potential investors.

Cost of Applying for a Utility Patent 

The cost of a utility patent application typically falls within the range of $9,000 to $12,000. However, the actual expenses are contingent on the complexity of your invention and the target market. Moreover, the size of your business also influences the cost, with small businesses opting for inventions with smaller market potential, as complex inventions can escalate the cost to around $20,000.

On the other hand, a design patent is relatively more affordable, ranging from $2,000 to $3,500. However, it is generally pricier than a utility patent. To determine the right fit for your needs, seeking advice from a lawyer is crucial. 

They can offer valuable insights and guidance throughout the patent application process. If necessary, a design patent attorney can assist with creating drawings to accompany the application.

While utility patents can be expensive and time-consuming to prepare, they provide protection for 20 years, requiring periodic fees to maintain their validity. A utility patent is a worthwhile investment, especially if you intend to license the technology or product. 

It offers long-lasting protection and the potential to yield significant financial gains. For comprehensive safeguarding of your ideas, utility patents are a preferred choice.

Factors Influencing Patent Costs

The cost of a patent application can be influenced by several key factors:

Type of Patent

The type of patent you are applying for, such as a utility patent, design patent, or plant patent, can impact the overall cost. Each type of patent has different requirements and associated fees.

The Complexity of the Invention

The complexity of your invention and the level of technical detail involved in describing it can affect the cost. More intricate inventions may require additional research, documentation, and claims, leading to higher expenses.

Attorney Fees

Hiring a patent attorney to draft and file the patent application is an essential step in the process. Attorney fees can vary based on the attorney’s experience and the complexity of the invention.

Government Filing Fees

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) charges various fees for filing a patent application. These fees can vary depending on the type of patent, entity status (small, micro, or large), and the number of claims.

Patent Search

Conducting a patent search to determine if similar inventions already exist can be an optional but valuable step. The cost of the search may add to the overall expenses.

Additional Services

Depending on the complexity of the application and specific requirements, there may be additional services required, such as drawing preparation, patent illustration, or responding to office actions from the USPTO.

Expedited Examination

If you require an expedited examination of your patent application, additional fees may apply for prioritized processing.

Foreign Filing

If you plan to seek patent protection in multiple countries, the cost will increase as you have to file separate patent applications in each jurisdiction.

Maintenance Fees

After the patent is granted, periodic maintenance fees are required to keep the patent in force throughout its term.

Patent Attorney Costs Explained

When engaging a patent attorney to handle your patent application, you are compensating them for their time spent researching and preparing the patent, as well as any specialists and experts they collaborate with. 

Patent attorneys possess technical expertise in addition to their legal training, often holding doctoral degrees in specialized areas like software, computer science, biotechnology, or other relevant fields. They may enlist subject-matter experts based on the nature of your invention, paraprofessionals for clerical tasks related to filing, and illustrators to create necessary drawings and diagrams.

Apart from the application process, your patent attorney will represent you in negotiations with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). While you retain the right to appeal the USPTO’s decisions on your patent, each new submission may incur substantial costs, especially if additional research and claims are required. Should the need arise to appeal to the internal review board or federal court, legal expenses will be even higher.

In some cases, amendments to your patent application may be necessary. As per the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), average amendment costs vary according to complexity:

  • Minimal complexity: $2,244.00
  • Relatively complex chemical case/biotechnology: $4,448.00
  • Relatively complex computer/electrical case: $3,910.00
  • Relatively complex mechanical case: $3,506.00

Navigating the patenting process requires careful consideration of the associated costs, and seeking professional guidance from a qualified patent attorney is vital to protect your intellectual property effectively.

Difference Between a Provisional and Non-Provisional Patent Application

Here’s an improved explanation of the difference between a provisional and non-provisional patent application:

Provisional Patent Application

  • Purpose: A provisional patent application serves as a preliminary filing that establishes an early priority date for the invention. It allows inventors to secure the phrase “patent pending” and gives them one year to further develop their invention or seek potential investors.
  • Scope: A provisional application does not undergo formal examination by the USPTO and does not lead to the grant of a patent. Instead, it provides a temporary safeguard, ensuring the invention’s priority while the inventor refines their idea.
  • Protection: A provisional application does not offer full patent protection on its own. To obtain full patent rights, inventors must file a non-provisional patent application within the one-year period and claim the benefit of the earlier provisional filing date.
  • Formality: The requirements for a provisional application are less strict. It does not require formal patent claims or a detailed description of the invention, but it is essential to provide sufficient information to establish the filing date.

Non-Provisional Patent Application

  • Purpose: A non-provisional patent application is a formal application for obtaining a utility patent. It involves a comprehensive and detailed disclosure of the invention’s technical aspects, claims, and specifications.
  • Scope: A non-provisional application undergoes a thorough examination by the USPTO to assess the invention’s patentability. If the application meets all legal requirements and is deemed novel and non-obvious, a utility patent may be granted.
  • Protection: Unlike a provisional application, a non-provisional patent application, if approved, grants full patent rights. It provides robust protection for the invention for up to 20 years from the date of filing, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.
  • Formality: A non-provisional application requires a complete and formal set of patent claims, detailed technical descriptions, and drawings that adhere to the USPTO’s guidelines.

Online Patent Application Services

Here are four online provisional patent application services you can check out. These are affordable alternatives to traditional legal firms. We have used LegalZoom and recommend their service:

  1. LegalZoom: LegalZoom is a well-known online legal service provider that offers patent filing services, including provisional patent applications, to inventors and entrepreneurs.
  2. Rocket Lawyer: Rocket Lawyer provides a range of legal services, including assistance with provisional patent applications, through its user-friendly online platform.
  3. Avvo: Avvo is an online legal services platform that connects individuals with experienced attorneys from various fields. It allows users to search for attorneys based on practice area and location, read client reviews, and schedule consultations. 
  4. LegalForce: LegalForce offers online patent filing services, including provisional patent applications, with a team of experienced patent attorneys and agents.


How much does it cost to file a design patent application?

The filing fees for a design patent application also depend on the entity size. For a large entity, the USPTO filing fees are typically around $760 to $960.

Is it better to hire a Big Law Firm or a smaller firm for writing my patent application?

The choice between Big Law Firms and smaller firms depends on your specific needs and budget. Big Law Firms may offer more extensive resources and experience, but smaller firms can be more cost-effective and provide personalized attention.

What is the general overview of patent costs?

The total cost of obtaining a patent can include attorney fees, government filing fees, patent search fees, and other related expenses. On average, a basic utility patent can cost between $8,000 to $15,000 or more.

How can I conduct an initial patent search?

You can perform a preliminary patent search using online databases and search tools provided by the USPTO and other resources. While this initial search is informative, it is advisable to consult a professional patent searcher or attorney for a comprehensive search.

How much does it cost to file a provisional patent application?

The USPTO filing fees for a provisional patent application range from around $70 to $280, depending on the entity size and the type of applicant.

Is there any difference between a Patent Agent and a Patent Attorney?

Yes, there is a difference. A Patent Agent is qualified to practice exclusively before the USPTO in patent prosecution, while a Patent Attorney is a licensed attorney who can provide legal advice and represent clients in all areas of intellectual property law, including patents.

Josh Fechter
Josh is the founder of The Product Company.