FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What does a Patent cost?
Like many legal questions, the answer depends on the circumstances.
If you want a utility patent, it will usually cost $7000-$8000 to prepare and file a utility patent application. This does not include the government filing, search, and examination fees, which change from time to time, and the cost of obtaining formal drawings. The cost after filing depends on what action the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office takes. On the higher end, it is not uncommon to spend as much as $20,000 over the course of 2 to 3 years.
If you want a design patent, it will usually cost $1200-$1500 to prepare and file a design patent application. This does not include the government filing, search, and examination fees, which change from time to time, and the cost of obtaining formal drawings. The cost after filing depends on what action the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office takes but are generally much lower than for utility patents.
If you want a provisional patent application, it will usually cost $1600-$2000 to prepare and file a provisional patent application. This does not include the government filing, which changes from time to time.
What is the difference between a Utility Patent, a Design Patent, and a Provisional Patent Application?
Utility patents can cover how a something functions or operates, or how it is made. Utility patents can also cover a unique collection of elements or parts. Design patents cover the visual appearance of something. Utility patents are generally thought of as being preferable to design patents, but this is not always the case.
The first billion-dollar patent damages award primarily relied on design patents. Apple obtained several utility patents and design patents covering various aspects of the original iPhone. When the iPhone hit the market, all existing cell phones had 12-button telephone or QWERTY keyboards. No cell phone had the revolutionary and pleasing shape of Apple's iPhone. Samsung released a cell phone shortly after the iPhone having several features courts determined were confusingly similar to those claimed in the Apple's design patents. After numerous appeals, the damage award was reduced to about two thirds. Almost all of the damages were based on the design patents.
Provisional patent applications never issue as a patent. They expire after one year. Utility patent applications claiming benefit of the provisional application filing date may be filed before the provisional application expires. Provisional applications are frequently described as a less expensive placeholder to establish a filing date while an invention is being developed. Provisional applications can offer other strategic advantages including establishing "patent pending" status.
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