Why use a smaller IP law firm?
A smaller IP law firm can often provide sufficient depth in a given technical area while being more responsive to a client's needs than its larger counterparts. Smaller clients can be "lost in the shuffle" at larger firms more attentive to their big corporate clients. Roberts, Mlotkowski Safran & Cole while large enough to provide expertise in patent matters related to chemical, biotechnology, mechanical, electronics, and software arts, remains responsive to both its smaller and larger clients (including its Fortune 50 clients).
What does a patent cost?
The cost of a United States patent includes preparation costs (including search fees, and attorney preparation time spent preparing the application), prosecution costs, and government fees including application filing fees, base issue fees and publication fees. After a patent has issued, government maintenance fees are required to keep the patent in effect after 3 1/2, 7 1/2, and 11 1/2 years. Many of the Patent Office fees are discounted (usually by half) for applicants who qualify as small entities (generally, all individuals and organizations except for-profit businesses with 500 or more employees). The filing fee, depending on the number of claims in the application, can be anywhere from about $375 to $3000 or more, depending on the number and types of claims in the application. For most applicants, the main cost item in the patent application is the professional charges by the patent attorney or agent preparing the patent application. The fee for filing changes occasionally so be sure to check the US. Patent and Trademark website to view the latest fee schedule.
At Roberts Mlotkowski Safran & Cole, our experience is that a patent application covering something that is very simple and easy to describe can cost the applicant as little as $3000 to file with the Patent Office, while more complex inventions can run as much as $20000 or more. Most applications tend to cost in the range of $6000 to $15000 for preparation and filing fees, exclusive of prosecution costs, publication fees and issue fees, which add from $2000 to $10000 or more, depending on the complexity and length of prosecuting the application before the Patent Office.
Can I save money by drafting a patent application
myself and then simply paying a patent attorney or agent to
touch it up for filing?
We are sometimes asked if the cost of preparing the patent application can be reduced if the applicant prepares a first draft of the application. It is not possible to answer this question in advance, since it is not possible to know whether the draft application as prepared by the client will be suitable for use in preparing the final application.
For many draft applications prepared by clients, it turns out to be more expensive for us to fix up the application than it would have been for us to prepare it from scratch. Accordingly, it is our policy not to file applications largely prepared by others except in unusual circumstances.
It is always helpful for a patent attorney or agent to receive anything and everything that has been written about the invention. Creating and transferring such documentation is best done electronically. The foregoing discussion is simply meant to emphasize that when the client provides lots of written matter about the invention (which never hurts and generally helps) the result is not so much the savings of money as an improvement in the quality of the patent application that results. Thus, the client should not focus so much on writing a patent application as on gathering and organizing the information that will go into the patent application, especially the description of the invention and the relevant background information about the prior art.
Costs of pro se and attorney/agent filings compared
If you apply pro se (that is, filing an application yourself, without a patent attorney or agent), the largest single expenditure is typically the Patent Office filing fee of $375 or more. If you retain a patent agent or attorney you can expect to pay for many hours of that person's time at some standard billing rate, leading to total costs as of filing the application of some higher amount. Depending on the billing rate and the time required it is common for a patent application to cost $3000-$5000 at the low end of the scale, or $10000-$25000 for a complex application.
Patent agents and attorneys vary in billing rates and in billing practices. Some, although not very many, will quote a fixed price for preparation of a (utility) patent application.
How much does it cost to file patent applications in countries
outside of the United States?
The cost for patent filings varies greatly from one country to the next. For someone who has already filed a patent application in the U.S., the cost to file in Canada, to give one example, is typically under $1,000. In contrast, a filing in Japan, which requires translations, might cost $10,000 or more. In some countries the number of claims influences the cost, in others it is the total page count. Anyone who is attempting to make a decision about whether to do foreign filings in a number of foreign countries would be wise to seek advice from a patent attorney or agent who has done many filings in foreign countries; an experienced attorney or agent can provide some estimate of the cost of the filings. Roberts Mlotkowski Safran & Cole, utilizes foreign associates who are among the best in their respective countries.