Nowadays it is more and more common to stumble upon flat-rate offers for patent applications on the web. Often prices below € 1000 are advertised. However, this only corresponds to part of the actual patent costs. Here are some basic facts that every applicant should know.
The costs for a patent essentially consist of 3 components: First there is the formulation of the patent specification (1). In addition, there are the respective fees for the registration and administrative costs of the patent attorneys (2). If the patent is successfully registered, maintenance fees (3) must be paid at regular intervals. This is a factor that should not be underestimated, especially for European and international registrations.
The following graphic shows an example of the cumulative costs for different registrations.
* Costs of the formulation by a patent attorney approx. € 7,000 (medium to high complexity)
** European application (EP) in DE, UK, FR, IT
*** International application (PCT / WO) in at least 8 states
National registrations can cost between € 10,000 and € 20,000 over a period of 20 years. While so-called collective registrations (PCT / WO) can exceed the € 100,000 mark after 10 years. Since here the maintenance fees have to be paid in parallel to several national offices. Incidentally, this also applies to the registration fees. In the following, the various cost components will be discussed in more detail ...
Before filing the application, the patent specification must be formulated. Thereby the costs can vary greatly. However, due to the fees of patent attorneys (approx. 250-300 € / h), one should assume several thousand euros.
Usually the lawyer will first determine the state of the art and familiarize himself with the subject. In addition, there are often inventor interviews and the production of drawings. Finally, the written formulation takes place, which usually requires several revisions. A length of 20-30 pages is not unusual. With regard to the formulation, there are various factors that have a significant impact on the amount of work:
- Complexity of technology
- Scope and quality of the description of the invention
- State of the art already determined (yes / no)
- Drawings available (yes / no)
It is generally advisable to hire a patent attorney with a relevant technical background. The lawyer's experience influences both the quality of the patent and the course and outcome of the application process. In addition, the time it takes to determine the state of the art and familiarize yourself with the subject is reduced.
REGISTRATION AND ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS
Another component of the total patent costs are the official fees. Here is an overview of selected countries:
* Online submission (DE registration up to a maximum of 10 claims)
** Additionally: designation fee per country 585 € (EP) or 745 € (PCT) including transmission fee
There are also administrative costs involved in applying for a patent. This includes, for example, the assumption of official representation by the patent attorney. However, the checking and forwarding of bibliographic data can also be listed on the invoice. In particular, when registering abroad (e.g. USA), additional costs, e.g. for translations, may arise. In addition, after the assignment, there is often a mandatory adjustment of the registration documents by the foreign colleagues.
The third component of patent costs is maintenance fees. For registrations in several countries, these fees are charged more than once. The graph above shows an example of these costs in relation to the life of patents. This can result in considerable costs within the 20-year term. Under certain circumstances, these can be compensated for by income from licenses. However, successful licencing campaigns depend on various factors such as industry, number of competitors, market development, competitive situation, product life cycles, etc.