How much does it cost to patent an idea?

Patents can be granted to any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof,” according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This effectively covers any man-made products and the processes by which they are created. It is worth noting that you can not get patents for laws of nature or physical phenomena since they are accessible to everyone. Literary, musical, and artistic works are covered by copyright and trademark laws and are not considered patent-able.

It is not enough to simply patent an idea; it must first be reduced to practice with enough specificity and sufficient detail to show how it would work to the average person who works in your domain of knowledge or industry.

Utility Patent

For utility patent, the cost varies from $5,000 to $16,000 depending on how complex a patent is.

  • A basic invention will cost you $5,000 to $7,000

  • An exceptionally complex invention will cost $14,000 to $16,000

  • And the final software invention, the cost is more than $16,000

Design Patent

On the other hand, a design patent needs preparing and filing an application. For attaining a design patent usually costs between $2,500 and $3,000 inclusive of the examination fee, which is $140. This is my personal pet peeve, but if you are going to file a design patent, please make sure that your design is mature enough that you are willing to pay for tooling to produce the design. All-too-often, I have seen inventors and university technology transfer offices assume they get some benefit out of an early-stage design patent - and waste their money on an ornamental design that will never exist.

For more information on how to navigate the intellectual property landscape, please check out our free guidebook at: Inventor’s Guide to Intellectual Property.