Are you an engineer or product designer looking to protect your new idea or project? Are you asking yourself “how much does a patent cost?” and is that a worthwhile investment?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about patents, including how they work, how much they cost, and when you should get one.
What is a Patent?
A patent is essentially a license that gives you the property rights to a product or creation you’ve invented. With a patent, the patent owner has the power to give permission to or license their patent to other parties, which will allow them to use the invention. It also prevents other people from using, distributing, or selling the invention without the patent owner’s consent.
There are two types of patents you should know of:
The utility patent is the most common type of patent. It’s used to grant license ownership for things like new machines, chemicals, and processes. This patent provides protection for the way a product or process works.
A design patent is a patent that protects the actual appearance or design of a manufactured product. This patent doesn’t protect the structure or features of a product, but rather how it specifically looks.
How to Determine if Something Can Be Patented
To qualify for a patent, your invention has to be different enough from other similar inventions. It must also be “non-obvious”, which means that someone within that field of invention must consider it an unexpected invention. Lastly, it must not have been used, sold, or patented by a different invention with a year of the date you filed your patent application.
Here is a list of categories you can generally patent:
- Computer software or hardware
- Chemical processes or formulas
- Furniture design
- Medical devices
- Medical devices
Here is a list of things that cannot be patented:
- Laws of nature
- Physical phenomena
- Abstract ideas
- Non-useful or offensive inventions
- Works of literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic nature (these can be copyrighted)
If your invention falls under one of these categories, you cannot patent it.
How the Patent Process Works
To get a patent, the invention must apply for one within one year of publicly announcing their invention. Before you apply for the patent, the inventor should do a preliminary patent search to determine if their invention has already been patented, or if trying to patent it is feasible. Once they do that, they can submit their application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which will review the patent.
Click here to learn more about how the patent application filing process works.
How Much Does a Patent Cost?
The cost of a patent can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the type of technology involved in the invention, attorney fees, and where the invention is being patented.
The first associated fee is the patent application, which can cost you as little as $65. It’s important to know, however, that this fee differs based on whether it’s a provisional patent or a non-provisional patent.
How expensive a patent costs usually depends on the legal fees and the complexity of the invention. Highly complex inventions like hardware or software will cost upwards of $16,000 whereas a relatively simple invention like a board game will cost you closer to $7000. Design patents, in which the appearance of the invention is patented, are usually a lot more inexpensive.
Factors that Affect How Much a Patent Costs
The type of patent and complexity of the invention aren’t the only costs involved in the patent process. If you’re an individual filing a patent application, you’ll pay less than a large business would. And if your invention involves a lot of technology, the price will be inherently higher.
It’s also important to know that products that are like other ones with existing patents, generally cost more. And if you’re planning on patenting your invention in several countries, you’ll have to account for those extra costs.
Should You Get a Patent?
Not sure if your invention needs a patent, or if it’s worth the application process? Here are some questions you should ask yourself before applying.
Is Your Invention Worth Protecting?
Does your invention have the potential to change the market and make you a lot of money? Or is it something with limited potential that will only speak to a niche market? If your product invention has little earning potential, you should consider if the return you’re getting will outweigh the associated application and legal fees.
If you’re interested in your invention but skeptical about getting a patent, talk to a patent lawyer.
They’ll tell you if it’s worth proceeding with the process. And if you’re not sure, consider a provisional patent application, which puts your application on record and gives you a year to think about whether you’d like to proceed with the patent process.
Can You Afford the Patent Process?
Patents can be quite costly and may take years to actually get. So, before you file an application think about how committed you are to your invention, and if you have the time, patience (and money) to stick with the process.
Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?
Just because your idea is great doesn’t necessarily mean you should get a patent for it. Your invention should have significant marketing value and have a high chance of being a saleable or license-able asset. If it isn’t, the patent is most likely not worth the cost.
Are You Willing to Defend Your Patent?
There will always be a person or company looking to steal your ideas or release some copycat version of your invention. Are you willing to go to court against these people and defend your invention? If not, you should consider not getting a patent.
Final Thoughts on Patents
Patents are a great way to protect your invention and prevent people from profiting from your ideas and hard work. But there’s a lot that goes into them. By assessing things like the feasibility of your patent, and the associated costs of having one, you can decide if applying for patent protection is right for you.
Are you thinking about patenting an invention? Not sure where to start? Contact us to learn more about how we can assist you with this process!