Protecting Your Idea With A Patent Isn't Cheap, Part 2

Should you do it yourself or get a professional to file your patent?

After choosing the type of patent you want to apply for, younext need to decide whether to file the patent yourself or hire apatent attorney or agent to do it for you. You may want to considergetting help from a professional; there have been several cases inwhich an inventor filed his own patent only to see it get struckdown in court. When it comes to patents, don't be penny-wiseand pound-foolish.

If you choose to file your own patent application, your minimumexpenditures will be the filing fees and costs associated withdrawings and document preparation. Assuming you are filing as anindividual or a small entity (as opposed to filing as acorporation), the filing fees are as follows:

  • Design patent: $165
  • Utility patent: $395

If you're filing a utility patent, the PTO requires you topay maintenance fees throughout the life of your patent to keep itactive. Those fees are:

  • Due at 3 1/2 years: $525
  • Due at 7 1/2 years: $1,050
  • Due at 11 1/2 years: $1,580

Hiring a patent attorney or agent to file your patent for youwill increase these costs. And since their fees vary widely, it isrecommended you interview several attorneys or agents and get anestimate of the total costs from each. Patent filing is fairlystraightforward, so each attorney you contact should be able togive you an estimate. If he or she can't, think twice aboutusing that attorney.

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