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9. Patent Fees and Costs

When it takes less than an hour of their time, many patent attorneys do not charge for the initial office visit. The first real expense then is the patent search and patentability opinion, costing from $1200 to $3000. The patent practitioner performs the patent search himself, or hires a professional searcher to perform the search. He or she then carefully reviews the results of the search, and prepares a letter stating why he does or does not believe the filing of a patent application would likely result in the issuance of a patent. The search criteria he uses is often highly subjective, and the search files are not 100% complete. Therefore, the Patent Examiner, the Patent Office employee which the Patent Office charges with the responsibility of determining whether your invention warrants patent protection, often finds prior art that the practitioner, or the private searcher, did not uncover.

When the practitioner completes his assessment, you have the opportunity to review the results, and to decide whether or not to ask the practitioner to write the patent application. Depending on the complexity of the invention, the practitioner's fees for preparing and filing a patent application vary from about $7000 to over $15,000. In addition, you must pay the government filing fees at the time you file the patent application. The filing fee varies from just under $500 to over $1000, depending on whether you are (1) an individual or a small business; or (2) a large corporation. The practitioner may file formal drawings with the application. Formal drawings usually cost about $100 per page of drawings. Most patent draftsmen use CAD software to generate drawings. CAD software allows quick and inexpensive modification of the drawings. For the typical application, a thorough description of the invention usually requires four to eight drawings. However, the Patent Office does not require that you file the formal drawings with the application. Therefore, this is one expense which you may postpone until the Patent Office indicates that you will receive a patent.

While the patent application is pending, you must pay additional government fees and practitioner's fees. The government fees are usually for filing petitions, and for printing the patent application once the Patent Office has decided that the application will issue as a patent. The practitioner's fees are usually for writing and filing amendments and petitions on your behalf. If the Examiner's repeated rejection of your patent application requires extensive amendments of the application, or an appeal to higher authority, the additional fees you may pay can exceed the initial cost of preparing the application. Even after you pay these additional fees, the practitioner cannot guarantee that the Patent Office will ultimately grant you a patent.

Unfortunately, the government fees don't stop once the patent issues. You must pay maintenance fees in order to prevent your patent from expiring.

at 3.5 years $470
at 7.5 years $950
at 11.5 years $1,455

For large corporations these fees are doubled.



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