If you’re wondering whether it’s worth filing a cheap patent application, take a look at my article: Provisional Patent Application: A Cheap Alternative?
What Does a Quality Patent Look Like?
Before we discuss costs, let’s talk about quality. If you search for “cheap patent application” on Google, you’ll find many options with quotes lower than what I mentioned earlier. However, these low-cost patents are usually of questionable quality. How do I know? Some of my clients have used such services in the past.
Quality in a patent encompasses various aspects. Generally, it refers to the patent’s ability to prevent competitors from designing around it and effectively competing without infringing. For comprehensive protection, the patent should cover the unique aspect of the invention. Otherwise, it can be easily bypassed.
Unfortunately, there’s no computer program that can analyze whether a patent offers broad or narrow protection. It’s not that simple. Some patent attorneys are better at evaluating this than others.
Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean High Quality
Quality and cost are directly related, but high-priced patent applications don’t always guarantee superior quality. The quality difference between a mid-priced and high-priced patent may be negligible. As the graph below shows, increasing the cost doesn’t necessarily raise the quality substantially.
Why is that? At the expensive end, you may be paying for unnecessary services.
Let me explain. When you hire a large law firm with over 100 attorneys, patent costs increase significantly. In certain situations, these high expenses are justified. For instance, if your invention requires a Ph.D. expert or if you need to file 100 patent applications next month, a large law firm is a good option. They have the specialized technical expertise and resources to handle such cases.
However, if you don’t need those resources, there’s no need to pay for large law firm prices. You can choose a smaller law firm that offers the same level of quality.
Should You Hire a Patent Attorney?
Yes, it’s highly recommended to hire a patent attorney to guide you through the process. It’s too intricate to handle on your own.
When hiring a patent attorney, you have three options:
- Solo Practitioner: A single attorney working independently.
- Dedicated Intellectual Property Law Firm: A group of 5 to 30 patent attorneys specializing in intellectual property matters.
- Large General Practice Law Firm: A firm with hundreds of attorneys specializing in various areas.
Each option has its pros and cons. My law firm falls in the middle category. We are a dedicated intellectual property law firm. I had the opportunity to join a large law firm but decided against it due to the better value proposition we offer to clients. I want to make you aware of my bias.
In my opinion, I would suggest avoiding solo practice patent attorneys. Their operations are smaller, and there may be minimal redundancies to prevent failure. While some solo practitioners are great, it can be hard to differentiate the exceptional ones from the average ones.
I’m not considering patent agents as they can’t advise on agreements, contracts, or all areas of patent law.
Large law firms are ideal if you have numerous patent applications to file within a short time. They have the resources to handle the workload. Additionally, if you require a patent attorney with a specific doctoral science degree, large law firms are more likely to have the personnel you need. However, for most startups and mid-sized businesses, a medium-sized boutique patent law firm is suitable. They offer reasonably priced services and have the necessary redundancies and support system for your protection.
Breakdown of Patent Costs
Given the significant cost of a patent application and patent, you may wonder why it’s so expensive.
To understand why, let’s examine the cost breakdown of obtaining a quality patent. The costs include:
- Government fees
- Drawing fees
- Attorney fees
For a quality patent, the largest portion of the cost is attributed to attorney fees. Here’s a breakdown to help you see for yourself.
The basic government filing fees for a nonprovisional patent application are as follows:
- Micro entity filing fee: $400
- Small entity filing fee: $800
- Large entity filing fee: $1,600
Assuming everything goes smoothly and you receive a first action Notice of Allowance, the only other fee you’d have to pay is the issue fee. The governmental issue fees for a nonprovisional utility patent application are as follows:
- Micro entity filing fee: $250
- Small entity filing fee: $500
- Large entity filing fee: $1,000
Drawing fees typically range from $500 to $1,000. The cost usually amounts to around $40 to $150 per drawing page.
The remaining cost is attributed to attorney fees. Based on simple calculations, about 80% to 90% of the patent and patent application cost is due to attorney fees.
Is it Worth Hiring a Patent Attorney?
A good patent attorney is definitely worth the money. Having seen many transferred-in cases, I’ve noticed that most of them lack quality. Simply paying for a patent or patent application doesn’t guarantee its quality. Several factors contribute to the quality of a patent application. Does it accomplish what you want it to? Some people may want a patent just for the sake of having one, while others need a patent that can effectively stop competitors.
How Much Does a Patent Cost for a Mobile Application?
The cost of patenting a mobile application ranges from $15,000 to $25,000. The complexity of the application and other factors influence the cost.
How Much Does it Cost to Patent an Idea Worldwide?
There’s no worldwide patent, but you can reserve the right to obtain a patent in most developing nations by filing a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application. Read more about the pros and cons of worldwide patent protection. The cost of seeking patent protection in approximately 35 countries with a significant Gross Domestic Product is approximately $90,000.
What is a Poor Man’s Patent?
A poor man’s patent is a way to establish a priority date for your invention. The myth suggests that you can mail a description of the invention to yourself via the United States Postal Service. The postmark on the envelope supposedly proves that you had the idea as of the mail date. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work for multiple reasons. One of the main reasons is that the United States has transitioned from a first-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file rule. Under the first-to-invent rule, the first person to invent would receive the patent. However, under the first-inventor-to-file rule, which is currently in effect, mailing the description to yourself doesn’t establish a priority date. You must file the patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to establish a priority date.
If you have any patent questions, feel free to reach out to me at (949) 433-0900. Don’t hesitate to share this article with your friends. As an Orange County Patent Attorney, I serve Orange County, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, and the surrounding cities.