The Price of a Patent – Government fees sure do take a bite!

As a patent attorney, it’s always amazing to see a late night infomercial or a web advertisement, which claims something along the lines of “get a patent for a small fee of less than $2,000.00.”  Sometimes the ads even boast of getting that patent “in minutes!”

Holy Cow!  Sounds too good to be true…

Usually the advertiser is only going to slap a cover sheet on the inventor-written description and file it as a US provisional patent application.  The naïve inventor might indeed receive a patent application serial number “in minutes” but the eventual utility application that will be relying on the provisional may suffer from inadequate support in the provisional description and isn’t going to be worth even the “small fee.”

Or maybe the ad is offering only a quick and dirty Design patent application.  That’s not going to protect the utilitarian or functional aspects of the invention.

Moreover, what the ads aren’t clearly saying (perhaps it’s in the very tiny fine print) is that government fees alone can drive the cost of a UTILITY patent application a lot higher than what the ad is suggesting.

For instance, the United States Patent and Trademark Office just issued a Fee Schedule Update which indicates an increase in fees from $449 to $482 for the International search portion of a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent application.  So, if an inventor is considering leveraging a U.S. patent application into other nations via the PCT route, the inventor is already looking at nearly $500 in fees for just a portion of the PCT process.  So, $2,000.00 is simply not going to get anyone a robust utility patent application, and that late night ad’s alluring price almost certainly doesn’t cover the cost of international patent protections.

Buyer beware!