Kevin Mark Klughart
PhD, PE, JD, MIP, LLM
Patent Attorney / Engineer
United States Patent Applications
One of the first pieces of information many inventors seek in their pursuit of patent protection is some idea of the cost of the process. While inventions may run a wide range of variations in the cost of patent protection, the following guidelines will help inventors budget their financial resources in preparation for filing a patent application. A very rough estimate of attorney costs and USPTO fees is as follows:
International (PCT) Patent Applications
The above costing data is directed solely to United States Patent Applications. Patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), often referred to as "international" patent applications operate under a different costing structure. PCT patent applications are an improvement over the previous system in which inventors wishing to protect their inventions outside of the United States were required to file individual patent applications in each country in which protection was sought.
The PCT scheme is much simplified, and provides a mechanism in which ONE patent application is filed with the USPTO and this application is copied to the 100 or so countries which are members of the PCT. As such, PCT patent applications provide for a significant economic benefit to the inventor because only one filing fee is required to file the initial patent application, no matter how many countries are the target of eventual patent protection. Fees associated with each individual country can be delayed up to 30 months from the priority date referenced by the initial PCT application.
Please note that PCT patent applications have special formatting requirements, both in form and content of the specification as well as special considerations regarding drawing formats and timing of previous patent applications (Provisional and/or Utility Patent Applications). These special considerations are too involved to completely describe in a web posing, so I encourage inventors who think they might want to pursue PCT filings to contact me or another patent attorney who has experience in this type of patent application.
The total outlay for a PCT patent prosecution can be substantial and will vary widely based on the technology art area, size, and complexity of the patent application. In very rough terms, expect to spend $3000-$5000 for the PCT filing fee, approximately $8000 for attorney preparation, and $12000 per country to have the patent prosecuted by overseas counsel once the PCT patent application is filed and examination in the foreign country is required before the 30-month mark. Additionally, note that if foreign translations are required, this cost generally runs on the order of $8000/application. While the cost of overseas prosecution varies widely based on the country, the following 1997 chart (while somewhat dated) does provide some idea of the relative cost per country for PCT prosecutions.
As can be seen from this chart, to fully protect an invention over all international avenues is extremely expensive, and generally beyond the financial means of most inventors. However, note that the PCT patent application, if filed within one year of the first U.S. priority date (whether Provisional or Utility) does secure the RIGHT to file in these overseas venues if done within 30 months of the first priority date. This can be extremely useful in situations where the inventor may want to sell or license the overseas rights in the invention to other entities which have a commercial presence overseas. Thus, the PCT patent application can be a cost effective methodology to stake out patent territory overseas for later sale or license.
A Note on Billing
My policy on billing varies somewhat from most patent practitioners. I DO NOT TAKE MONEY IN ADVANCE OF WORK PERFORMED. Therefore, in contrast to most practitioners, I don't take retainers. My standard billing practice is tot bill NET 30 after filing of the patent application, meaning I invoice at the time the patent application is filed (or the work is performed) and expect payment within 30 days of the invoice date.
Kevin Mark Klughart
Registered Patent Attorney, USPTO
3825 Leisure Lane, Denton, TX 76210-5589
tel: 800-353-1211 / 940-320-0580 - fax 940-320-0581