How much does it cost to get a patent?

You’ve debated the pros and cons of patent protection, and you’ve decided to get a patent to protect your idea.  Great!  How much is it going to cost you?

Mostly, it depends on how complex the invention is and how hard it is to get it through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Searching online, you will see estimates of $2,000 – $15,000 just to prepare and file a patent application, and estimates of $30,000 – $60,000 if you include everything needed to get a patent issued and maintained.


To understand how these costs break down, let’s look at two hypothetical examples:

Simple Invention A

Invention A is a simple mechanical device.  It can be easily described in a few pages and a couple of drawings, and there are clear differences between the invention and what existed in the past.  For example, something like the hair clip of U.S. Pat. No. 8,555,898.


Complex Invention B

Invention B is more complex.  It requires many more drawings and pages of description.  The differences between this invention and what existed previously are nuanced and not easily apparent.  Something like the auto-injector of U.S. Pat. No. 7,357,790.


Four parts to a patent

While most estimates consider only the drafting and filing of a patent application, the complete costs of a patent can be divided into four parts:

1. Preparing

2. Filing

3. Prosecuting

4. Issue and Maintenance



Preparing the patent application.

This includes everything needed to prepare the patent application: preliminary searches to discover similar inventions, fees for professional drawings, and mostly, the attorney fees to draft the patent application.

Typical law firms charge $6,000 – $7,000 for simple mechanical inventions and $8,000 – $12,000 for relatively complex mechanical or chemical cases.  However, small boutique law firms like ours take advantage of a lower overhead and a focus on efficiency to offer lower drafting fees.

For our examples, let’s assume that after consulting with the inventor, we forgo a formal patent search for Invention A based on its simplicity.

Simple Invention A Complex Invention B
Patent Search $2,000
Drafting Fees $3,000 $7,500
Drawings 2 figures ~ $300 12 figures ~ $900
Preparation Total $3,300 $10,400


Filing the patent application.

Next, you need to file the patent application with the USPTO.  The USPTO filing fees will vary according to the size of your company, with large entities paying the most.  In addition, other USPTO and legal fees may be needed to prepare and file any additional documents.

Let’s assume Invention A is owned by a solo inventor while Invention B is owned by a small company.  For additional documents, we’ll elect to file an assignment document for Invention B.  It is also common to prepare and file Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) with patent applications listing anything we know that may affect the examination of the application.

Simple Invention A Complex Invention B
USPTO Filing Fees


(Micro Entity)


(Small Entity)

Assignment Recordation $130
IDS Submission


(Micro Entity)


(Small Entity)

Filing Total $610 $1,200


Prosecuting the patent application.

Once filed, the USPTO will examine the patent application and issue a number of “Office Actions” detailing any issues the USPTO has with the patent application.  On average, a patent application receives 4 Office Actions before getting allowed.

Typically, law firms charge $1,500 – $2,000 to respond to Office Actions for simple inventions and $2,500 – $3,500 for more complex inventions.  In addition, there are some USPTO fees associated with responding to Office Actions.

In some harder cases, responding to the Office Actions may not be enough, and you may end up filing an Appeal with the USPTO ($3,000 – $9,000) to argue for the allowance of the patent application.

Let’s assume Invention A required 2 Office Action responses before being allowed and Invention B required 4 Office Action responses before allowance.

Simple Invention A Complex Invention B
1st Office Action $1,500 $2,250
2nd Office Action $1,500 $2,250


(needed after 2 Office Actions)


(Small Entity)

3rd Office Action $2,250
4th Office Action $2,250
Prosecution Total $3,000 $9,650


Issuing and maintaining the patent application.

On average, it takes 2+ years to get a patent application allowed.  Afterwards, the last step to obtaining a patent is paying the issue fee.

The USPTO also requires payment of maintenance fees during the life of the patent to keep it in force.  Usually, a patent services firm is hired to handle payment of these maintenance fees for a small service charge (~$200).

Let’s assume both inventions are issued and maintained throughout their lives, and a services firm is hired to maintain Invention B.

Simple Invention A Complex Invention B
Issue Fee


(Micro Entity)


(Small Entity)

Maintenance Fee

(3.5 years)


(Micro Entity)


(Small Entity)

+ $200 fee

Maintenance Fee

(7.5 years)


(Micro Entity)


(Small Entity)

+ $200 fee

Maintenance Fee

(11.5 years)


(Micro Entity)


(Small Entity)

+ $200 fee

Issue and Maintenance Total $3,400 $7,400


Total Cost and Timelines:

Adding everything up, we get $10,310 for Invention A and $28,650 for Invention B.  Invention A is as cheap as a patent could realistically be, while Invention B is about average for straightforward mechanical inventions.  However, you can easily double these costs for more complex chemical or electrical inventions.

The good news is that it’s not all up-front costs.  It takes about 3 years to go from idea to patent, and the costs can be (very) roughly divided into thirds over those 3 years:

  Simple Invention A Complex Invention B
Years 0-1:  drafting and filing the patent application $3,910 $11,600
Years 1-3:  2 years+ prosecution in the USPTO $3,000 $9,650
Years 3+:  issue and maintenance fees $3,400 $7,400
Total $10,310 $28,650

However, always remember that, whatever you spend to prepare and file a patent application, you will spend a similar amount (if not more) getting it through the USPTO.


The importance of selecting a good patent attorney.

Usually, legal fees are the biggest expense in getting a patent.  About 60 % of the total costs pay for a patent attorney to draft the initial patent application and get it through the USPTO.  However, these are also the most important parts of the patent process.  They will determine the overall quality of the patent, or even if a patent is granted at all.

A poorly-written patent application will cost much more to get through the USPTO, or may not issue at all.  Even a well-written patent requires a good patent attorney to ensure it issues in a useful form.

A good patent attorney:

Focuses the patent application on the inventive heart of your idea.  Makes your patent stronger.

Highlights the differences of your invention from other similar ideas.  Makes your patent easier to get through the USPTO.

Fights to get a good patent issued, instead of merely getting anything through the USPTO.  Makes your patent more valuable.


A patent requires a significant investment of time and money.  However, a well-written (and well-prosecuted) patent can be very valuable.


Work with a patent attorney that can deliver high quality patent applications at lower costs and works with you to obtain the most valuable patent.



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