Introduction

The costs of obtaining a patent are not inexpensive and are unfortunately front-loaded.  Furthermore, they depend upon the particular circumstances of a case, including but not limited to:

  • the complexity of the technology
  • the amount of relevant art
  • the jurisdiction(s) and/or region(s) in which the application will be filed
  • the urgency of the filing
  • the responsiveness of the inventor to the patent agent’s inquiries

Accordingly, it is often difficult to quote a precise amount at the outset.  As a general rule of thumb, for a case of average complexity, all other issues being relatively straightforward, the cost of drafting a regular patent application may range between $8,000-$15,000.  In addition, there may be charges for the preparation of suitable formal drawings satisfactory to the patent office.

Provisional applications

If a provisional application is called for, depending upon the urgency, the cost of preparing such an application may vary, in a typical case, between $3,000 and $5,000.  However, it is not unreasonable to expect that some (but not all) of this cost will be met by a proportional reduction in the cost of drafting the regular application.  Additionally, some of the cost of drafting of the regular application will be deferred by up to a year.

If a search and patentability opinion is required, it is not unreasonable to expect to negotiate a ceiling on the order of $2,000 and to scope the task accordingly.

Search and patentability opinion

Filing costs vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  As well, some jurisdictions scale the basic filing fee by the size of the application, the number of drawings and/or the number of claims.  Other jurisdictions may charge for additional services such as filing supplementary materials including assignments and/or soft copies of code or sequence listings.  In addition to the government filing fees, in some jurisdictions, the costs of an associate patent professional and/or a translation of the patent application may be applicable.

Some patent agents use, as a rule of thumb, a filing cost (in addition to the one-time drafting cost) of about $3,000-$5,000 per jurisdiction.

PCT International Applications

If a PCT International Application is filed, the national and/or regional phase entry fee, which is generally comparable to the direct filing cost into such jurisdiction / region, may be deferred.  The cost of filing a PCT International Application, however, is over and above the national and/or regional phase entry fee and may vary between $5,000-$8,000 and more, depending upon the size and complexity of the patent application. However, the costs of the national or regional filing (or entry) for multiple jurisdictions may be deferred for up to 30 months.

Examination Requests

Examination request fees, where applicable, may be in the $500-$1,000 range.   Once examination has started, however, there are generally no government fees applicable, although certain tactical steps and/or extensions may require payment of a modest fee.  The primary cost of the examination process, once it begins, is the cost of retaining the patent agent to review the Office Action and cited references and to report, prepare and submit a response to the Examiner.  As a rule of thumb, a single iteration of receiving and responding to an Office Action can vary between $1,000-$3,000.  It is not unusual to expect an Office Action once per year, although the frequency in some cases may be more or less than annually.

Issue and Maintenance Fees

Issue fees and maintenance fees are generally relatively modest.  However, if a divisional or other application is to be filed before the patent issues, additional filing, examination, issue and maintenance fees will be applicable.  Generally, there is no need in such cases to re-draft the patent application, although on occasion, some charges will be incurred to prepare a new set of claims.