General Patent Information
A formal Patent Application is submitted
to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, DC. Only
Inventors themselves, or attorneys registered to practice before
the US Patent & Trademark Office, can prepare and submit such
an application for an inventor.
You should thus make sure that the attorney you choose to deal with
in such an endeavor, is registered by the United States Patent &
Trademark Office to handle your patent application.
Warning: Be on guard against
"inventor services" who claim they will "market"
your idea and want large up front fees. Such firms have been recently
exposed on ABC’s 20/20 as nothing more than the latest scam
against consumers. Additional information is available in other
sections of this home page.
Preparation of your patent application is
a fairly complicated matter. Your application must adhere to certain
criteria and standards of the United States Patent & Trademark
Office. Your Patent Attorney is aware of these requirements, and
in discussing your invention with you, will put your application
in proper format for submission. Your patent attorney will also
use his experience and best efforts to broaden the scope of your
Preparation will include the drafting of formal descriptions of
the best mode or version of your invention, specifications on how
it is built and/or operates, and claims as to the uniqueness of
the invention. Formal Patent Office drawings will also be prepared
by a Patent Draftsperson. These drawings are highly specific to
Patent Office requirements and are normally handled by your Patent
Normally, the inventor knows his or her area of expertise much better
than the Patent Attorney. Consequently, preparation of your Patent
Application will generally include one or two drafts for your review
and correction. One-on-one interviews by phone or in person are
also important, as your Patent Attorney will generally ask you questions
intended to lead to information that is important to your patent.
A well trained and certified Patent Attorney’s job is to take
your idea and draft the best application with the broadest claims
possible. This involves a little detective work on the part of the
Attorney, and you should not be insulted if you are asked what you
consider "dumb" questions. There are no such thing as
"dumb questions" by you or by your Attorney. Answer anything
you can if asked and do not be afraid to disclose any and all information
about your patent idea, no matter how small or inconsequential you
may feel it is. Your job is to educate your Patent Attorney on your
idea. The Attorney’s job is to listen, question, and write.
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The normal time to complete the Patent Application
process from start to finish is about 18 months. During that time
your application is submitted to a Patent Examiner at the U.S. Patent
Office who does his own patent search looking for similar inventions.
Once this is done, the Patent Examiner will review your application
and compare it to patents found in his search as well as general engineering
principals and his personal experience in your area of art. The examiner
will contact your Patent Attorney with formal requests for changes
in your application or reasons why the Examiner feels your application
does not deserve a patent.
If your Patent Attorney can satisfy the Examiner’s inquiry and
requests, your patent will be allowed and you will be required to
pay an issuance fee to the Patent Office. During the 20 year term
of the patent, other fees will be due to keep it in force, which are
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The basic fee for filing an application for
a utility patent ranges from $370 to $740,dependant on whether or
not the applicant is entitled to status as a small entity(independent
inventor, small business concern, or non-profit organization).
Issue fees (charged by the Patent Office if your patent application
is approved) for utility patents range from $675.00 to $1300.00.
Maintenance fees are due at 3 1/5, 7 1/2 and 11 1/2 years from the
date the utility patent is granted.
Applications are assigned to examiners who are experts in various
fields of technology. They research previous patents and technical
literature to determine whether a patent should be granted. This
procedure takes an average of about 18 months.
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Legal fees for a simple patent generally
run in the area of $4500 to $7500 depending upon the complexity
of the simple idea, and sometimes, where you live. Some law firms
will work on a flat fee basis, including all costs and legal fees;
others will work on an hourly basis. By the time you have a patent
application which is filed, you can expect to have spent from $2500
to $4500 on the application itself. This does not include any office
actions or the base issue fee the government charges if your patent
Our office specializes in small inventor Patent Applications. We
find that the most interesting and novel technology we encounter
is from small companies or single inventors.
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Lump Sum Pricing
The Patent & Trademark Law Center office
offers small firms and single inventors a "lump sum" price
for simple patent applications which require one page of drawings.
The total charge, including everything (patent office application
fee, drafting fees for patent draftsman, legal fees for preparation
of patent) is $4850. If the application requires a second page of
drawings we only charge the extra $145.00 the draftsperson charges
us. There are no hidden charges and no "extras". We also
don't charge you for those quick phone calls or email inquiries,
just keep them short.
This price does not include the subsequent office action which will
occur about 8 to 12 months later, which generally requires some
form of amendment costing $700 to $900. The reason we don't charge
for this up front is simple, we don't know if it will happen or
how extensive it might be. The Patent Examiner determines this based
on his or her subjective review of your invention.
If your patent issues, the Patent Office will charge you a "Base
Issue Fee" for sending you the Patent itself, which is currently
$670.00 including the extra charges for 10 copies of the patent.
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Free Initial Interview
As a benefit to small inventors, we offer a free interview regarding
your idea in our office or by telephone or fax. Some things are
by nature patentable, and some things are just not patentable. If
we feel your idea is patentable, we will tell you. Alternatively,
if we feel it is not, we will tell you and would encourage you not
to be insulted.
Your next step at this point is to have a patent search performed
to ascertain if any prior patents would inhibit or prevent a patent
for your idea. We hesitate to file a patent application for a client
if we do not feel it will eventually be successful. While this may
cost us legal fees from potential clients, we find that more than
one grateful inventor-to-be, returns a second time. Apparently,
not everyone in this business will turn away a potentially paying
client. However, we have found that people appreciate being told
if we do not feel their idea has patentable subject matter.
Should you wish to discuss your idea in person, please feel free
Donn Harms at our Office at (858) 509-1400.
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