Contestants showing off an invention on "Shark Tank"

After a young man applied four times to be on “Shark Tank,” he and his business partner from Carrollton, Texas, get a chance to pitch a gimmicky idea that delivers an unusual twist on a common vegetable.

Michael Desmond/Getty Images

Filing a patent on an invention allows you to protect your intellectual property from individuals and companies. A patent grants its owner rights to the invention for a predetermined amount of time, allowing the patent owner to control how the invention is used and to receive financial compensation for that use.

There is an initial cost for the privilege of owning the patent. The cost depends on the complexity of the idea or invention, and includes both the patent search and filing fees.

How the patent system works

Similar to a copyright, which protects original works of authorship, and trademarks, which protect logos, designs and general phrasing used in distinguishing a business, patents are used to protect ideas and inventions.

For an invention to qualify for a patent, it must have substantial differences that make it unique from any other idea or invention. Ideas that improve upon current technology must represent substantial progression, such as through the combination of two or more technologies, to warrant the issuing of a new patent.

Once you are ready to file your patent, you need to first perform a search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent database, or at least pay someone to do it for you. Most inventors use a patent lawyer or patent agent to facilitate the filing process.

Once the lawyer or agent has confirmed that your idea does not already exist, they help you file your patent paperwork. The cost is based on the intricacy of the idea.

Types of inventions

When filing for a patent, you must determine what type of invention category the idea falls in. The type of invention determines how much a patent search and filing costs. In addition to the prices for filing and searching the USPTO database, patent filers should be prepared to pay other costs. For example, it costs more to obtain patents in other countries.

Extremely simple. For a very simple idea or invention, such as a coat hanger, ice-cube tray or diaper, attorney filing fees generally range from $5,000 to $7,000, while a patent search costs $1,000 to $1,250. For the fees it charges, the U.S. patent office accepts a variety of payment methods, including personal checks, money orders, electronic funds transfers and credit cards.

Relatively simple. Relatively simple patent ideas range from a board game to belt clips for cellphones. Attorney filing fees for this type of patent range from $7,000 to $8,500. The search fees run from $1,000 to $1,250, the same as an extremely simple search.

Minimally complex. Minimally complex ideas include the lawn mower, camera and power hand tool. Search fees increase to $1,250 to $1,500 over extremely and relatively simple ideas, and attorney filing fees increase to $8,500 to $10,000.

Moderately complex. Moderately complex inventions would include the riding mower, cellphones and simple RFID devices. With the increase in complexity, filing fees rise to $10,000 to $12,000. Search fees also increase, starting at $1,500 and running up to $1,750.

Relatively complex. Relatively complex inventions include the shock-absorbing prosthetic device, with patents costing around $12,000 to $14,000 to file. In addition, search fees usually run from $1,750 to $2,000.

Highly complex. The highest non-software category for a patent, highly complex inventions range from the latest satellite technologies to medical equipment, such as the MRI scanner. These patents cost the most to file, running from $14,000 to $16,000. Subsequently, the search fee also rises, ranging from $2,000 to $2,500.

Software-related. Computer software has its own patent category. The cost to search for patents in the software category runs from $2,500 to $3,000. Additionally, filing fees usually run over the $16,000 range.

Conclusion

To understand how much does a patent cost, it’s important to know how the process operates. The patent system is set up to fuel innovation while protecting inventors from theft of their ideas. By following the proper steps and consulting with an attorney, you can protect your ideas with the appropriate patent. Just make sure to cover all of your bases when filing a patent, and spend the necessary money to file as strong a patent as possible.

Promoted Stories