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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.

Application Preperation
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 invention.

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 Attorney.

Be forthcoming. 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 described below.

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Government Fees
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
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 issues.

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 to contact Donn Harms at our Office at (858) 509-1400.

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12702 Via Cortina, Suite 100, Del Mar, CA 92014
Phone: (858) 509-1400 Fax: (858) 509-1677 (map)

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