Average Legal Fees for U.S. Provisional Patent ApplicationMany inventors want to know what a qualified patent attorney will charge to prepare a provisional patent application that fully discloses their invention. The only thing that should be missing in a provisional patent application compared to a non-provisional patent application is the “Claims” section (however, the individual drafting the provisional patent application still needs to have an understanding of what claims will be filed in the non-provisional). If a provisional patent application is drafted properly the first time by a patent attorney, to prepare the later filed non-provisional patent application the patent attorney should only have to add the Claims section without changing the rest of the application. Regarding legal fees, we tell inventors that a properly drafted provisional patent application will typically take approximately 90% of the time it takes us to prepare a non-provisional patent application. Hence, you can expect legal fees for a provisional patent application to be approximately 90% of what a non-provisional patent application (i.e. only a 10% savings). Since many experienced patent attorneys charge $400+ per hour, it is easy to see the total legal fees to prepare a provisional patent application can add up quickly if you want your provisional patent application drafted properly. If a patent attorney quotes you a low fee to prepare a provisional patent application, just work the math backwards and you can see the amount of time the patent attorney expects to put into writing your provisional patent application. For example, if the patent attorney quotes you only $2,000 to prepare the provisional patent application and their hourly rate is $400/hour, the patent attorney is most likely expecting to put only 5 hours ($2,000 / $400 per hour = 5 hours) of time into writing your patent application including all communications with you which is not a lot of time spent preparing your provisional patent application.
Your Options: Self-Draft, Cheap Patent Service or Quality Patent AttorneyAs an inventor who wants to file a provisional patent application seeking patent protection for your invention, you have the following three main options:
- Option 1: Self-Draft
- Option 2: Hire a Cheap Patent Service
- Option 3: Hire a Quality Patent Attorney
– Option 1: Self-Drafting Provisional Patent ApplicationSelf-drafting a provisional patent application requires the inventor to spend a lot of time learning the patent process, preparing patent drawings and preparing the written description of the invention. The risks of making mistakes in the provisional patent application increase when an inventor self-drafts their own provisional patent application – particularly an inventor unfamiliar with the patent process. While self-drafting of provisional patent applications is allowed by the USPTO, inventors should make themselves fully aware of the risks of self-drafting. If you educate yourself about the risks of self-drafting and are willing to take those risks, it is recommended that you use a commercial software program such as Michael Neustel’s PatentWizard software (www.PatentWizard.com) to assist you in self-drafting (keep in mind that no software program can replace a competent patent attorney).
– Option 2: Pay a Low-Priced Patent Service to Prepare Provisional Patent ApplicationAs with everything in life, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many inventors fall prey each year to cheap “patent services” which may or may not be a licensed patent attorney. There are some patent services and individuals offering to prepare your provisional patent application for an extremely low fee (e.g. less than $2,000). Keep in mind that some of these patent services do not even have a patent attorney licensed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The famous quote by John Ruskin is very appropriate when considering hiring a low priced service provider:
“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.” – John RuskinAnother relevant business quote attributed to John Ruskin is “There is hardly anything in the world that some people cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.” If you are still considering a low-priced patent service, you will want to at least get answers to the following questions from the patent service in writing before paying them any money:
- Are you licensed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office?
What is your USPTO registration number?
- NOTE: If they are not a licensed patent attorney, they cannot legally draft your provisional patent application for you and you should not use their service.
- Will a registered patent attorney be preparing my patent application or will an unregistered individual be preparing my patent application?
- How many years have you been drafting patent applications?
- Why are your legal fees so much cheaper than other patent attorneys?
- Do you have an engineering background and experience with the technology of my invention?