How much does it cost to patent an invention?
When you are creating a budget to patent an invention, you should consider it in several steps. Some people require a patent search, which can be $500-$1500. That patent search may or may not include a freedom-to-operate opinion, but we highly recommend that a search be done. We speak to people routinely who say, "I know this industry, and there is nothing like it anywhere." And given two hours, we find it already patented. Without a search, the client would have wasted many thousands of dollars.
After the search, and assuming a positive conclusion, the next step is the filing of an initial patent application. The filing fee, all by itself, can be $221 to more than $2000, depending on whether we are filing a simple design patent, or initiating an international patent process. For a typical new inventor filing a non-provisional utility patent, the filing fee is $400 to $800.
The attorney fees for a new utility patent is going to range from $3000 to $7500, depending on the complexity of the subject matter and timing needs. Some inventions need only two or three drawings; some machines need dozens of drawings. Anyone that tells you a straight answer on the cost to file a patent application without knowing what your invention entails is making assumptions that may not be valid.
After the filing, we have a long wait, and then have to respond to the Patent Office's office actions. You should budget $1500 to $2500 for typical responses to the Patent Office.
Generally speaking, an inventor should understand that the ballpark to start the process is going to be around $5000, give or take, and then another several thousand along the way. And you should be wary of firms who just state that they will do it for much less. Law firms have to be paid before they do the work on the invention, and an inventor never knows if he might have obtained the patent had he not gone for the lowest bidder.