How Much Does a Patent Cost

How much does a patent cost? Many inventors know that they need a patent to get legal protection for their inventions or ideas, but this protection is not free. In order to patent an idea or invention, the originator must apply with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a patent, and the fees can be high.

What Can Be Patented
Patents can apply to a physical invention that can be manufactured, such as a machine, a specialized process, composition of matter or a significant improvement to an existing item. Inventors can even patent an idea that meets certain requirements. People cannot get a patent for natural processes, abstract ideas, works of art, offensive items or things that aren't useful in improving the human condition.

How To Apply
The USPTO accepts applications from inventors to patent their inventions, designs and ideas. The applications must contain a variety of information about the invention, including details about the background of the invention, a detailed description of it, drawings and pictures if possible and an oath from the inventor that states originality and ownership. Someone needs to evaluate all this material, and that's where the fees come in.

Patent Application Fees
Fees will vary from application to application, and all applications will require a filing fee. The filing fee allows the patent application to be reviewed by the USPTO to determine whether or not the patent will be given to the applicant. As of 2009, provisional applications (a simplified application that locks in a filing date for a later, more detailed review) are $105 and non-provisional applications (the detailed and formal applications) are $515. Once the patent is approved, the inventor must pay an issue fee of $650 to secure the patent. During the life of the patent (20 years for a utility patent and 14 for an idea), maintenance fees are due at set intervals. After 3½ years, $465 is due; after 7½ years, $1,180 is due; and after 11½ years, $1,955 is due. If you do not pay these fees when they are due, your patent may expire early.

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Want to know how to get a patent? The application process will require some work, but the patent should protect your invention for 20 years.

How long does a patent last? A patent actually lasts a long time-20 years from the time of application, and 14 years for design patents, but your patent can expire early in some cases.

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What do patents protect? Patents can protect anything from a machine to a chemical compound, but it does not protect an invention that does not come with diagrams and specifications.

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Learning how to patent an idea isn't as easy as you might think. You need to determine what kind of patent you need, and then you need to fill out plenty of paperwork to prove the originality of your invention.

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