Patenting an invention: utility patents

How to get a patent: utility patent services

Yale University School of Medicine
Tiffany & Co.
CNOOC Limited
The Boston Consulting Group

Patent services: getting a utility patent

Simply put, utility patents protect that which makes an invention useful and unique. The holder of a utility patent enjoys exclusive rights to produce, use, and sell the patented invention. Unlike a design patent, a utility patent protects the characteristic function of the invention. Competitors will have to do more than make simple cosmetic changes to the design to avoid infringing upon the patent. Whether you've developed a new device or a novel manufacturing process, a utility patent guarantees no one else can take credit for your innovation.

Whereas design patents protect the aesthetic or cosmetic aspects of a design or product, utility patents cover the operational or functional aspects. That means someone can't take your brilliant new device, slap a different coat of paint, and sell it under a different name. Another way to think of it is that a design patent helps to protect your branding, while a utility patent protects the heart of your invention: its function.

With our network of patenting experts, you can quickly find a qualified attorney to help you with the USPTO patent filing system. Our patent lawyers are experts in U.S intellectual property law and will guide you through every step, from patent drawing to application.

How it works

We offer utility patent services for hourly or fixed rates, depending on your needs. We offer a free estimate based on your project description before you make any decision, allowing you the flexibility to choose the option that best suits your project. The cost of applying for a patent varies according to the complexity and specificities of your invention and the field in which it will compete. This fee covers the entire application process, including one round of revisions to the draft. Included in the quote are additional drafts if needed or should you desire them.

Individual clients, startups, or small businesses often prefer getting a quote for a fixed rate, while larger businesses tend to select hourly billing. The fixed fee tends to be less costly, though it provides less flexibility than an hourly contract.

Below are broad estimates for patent services.

  • $6,000 to $10,000 – Complex electronic or computer inventions
  • $4,000 to $8,000 – Mechanical or electrical inventions of average complexity and intricacy
  • $7,500 upwards – Biotech or chemical inventions with DNA sequence listings, etc.
  • $6,500 to $9,500 – Internet Business Method inventions

Allow 2-3 months for our patent experts to prepare your application. Expedited services are available for an additional fee.

Expedited Fees

For applications that need to be filed within one week, an additional fee of $1,250 applies. It is challenging to offer high-quality and personalized patenting services in such a short period, and we recommend against rush applications unless they are unavoidable.


While the patent drawing standards at the USPTO have loosened, a patent drawing is still essential to a successful utility patent application. We offer comprehensive patent drawing and CAD drafting services for any invention of any complexity. Our drafter’s fee is approximately $100 to $175, depending on the complexity of the design. Contact us for a quote for a more accurate estimate.

Patent Office Fees

In 2013 the USPTO introduced a tiered pricing system to encourage innovation and support small businesses. Applicants can select from either Regular status, Small Entity status, or Micro Entity status. Applicants who qualify for Small Entity status are entitled to a 50% discount, and applications who qualify for Micro Entity status receive a 75% discount relative to the regular fee.

Small entity status

A Small Entity is defined as an individual, a business with fewer than 500 employees, a university, or a 501(c)(3) non-profit. To apply as a small entity, you must declare as much when you submit the application. Applicants are not entitled to Small Entity status if your invention is to be licensed to a large entity. For example, you may not claim Small Entity Status if your patent is licensed to Samsung or another large company. 

Micro entity status

An applicant qualifies as a Micro Entity if they:
  1. Qualify as a Small Entity
  2. Hold less than four existing patents
  3. A gross annual income less than three times the gross medium household income reported by the Bureau of the Census


  1. Qualify as a Small Entity
  2. Receive a majority of their income from an Institute of Higher Learning or are assigning the patent to an Institute of Higher Learning 

Fees in filing any utility application

See the USPTO website for more information on patent fees.

  • Basic Filing Fee: $280 for up to 20 claims, including three independent claims. The basic Small Entity paper filing fee is $140. The fee for a Micro Entity is $70
  • Electronic Filing: The USPTO gives small entities an incentive to file electronically. The Basic Filing Fee is reduced to $70 for Small Entities that file electronically.
  • Utility Patent Search Fee: $600 Regular fee; $300 for Small Entities; $150 for Micro Entities
  • Examination Fee: $720 Regular fee;  $360 for Small Entities; $150 for Micro Entities

Please note the following additional fees:

  • If more than twenty claims – Add $40 for each claim that exceeds twenty.
  • If more than three independent claims – Add $210 for each independent claim over three.
  • If there are multiple dependent claims – Add $390. Using multiple dependent claims is not generally recommended.
  • For long applications – Add $200 per additional 50 pages if the application exceeds 100 pages.


In circumstances where your application is to be assigned, meaning it will be owned by someone other than the inventor/s, there is an additional $200 fee for preparing and recording the assignment. In addition, a $40 USPTO recording fee per patent or application assigned filed on paper is paid together with the legal fees. For recording done electronically, there is no USPTO recording fee. 

Electronic filing

Most of our filings are done electronically. However, note that there are still circumstances where originals need to be filed physically. Examples include certified copies of foreign applications, videos, microfilm appendices, CD-ROMs, etc.

A  penalty fee applies to new applications that are not filed electronically. This fee is $400, or $200 for Small and Micro Entities. Contact Cad Crowd if you have any questions about e-filling, and our patent professionals will assist you.

After your application has been filed...

“Patent pending”

Once a patent application has been filed, you may claim 'patent pending' status for your invention until the application is resolved. This usually takes about 18 to 24 months. Patent Pending status serves to notify the public, other businesses, and potential infringers that they may be liable for damages or other penalties once the patent is acquired.

The information disclosure statement – providing “prior art” to the USPTO

Applicants must supply the USPTO with any prior art or background information pertinent to the patent application's eligibility. Filing an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS), with copies of all relevant publications known to the inventor, is required by the USPTO. It is generally filed after receiving the official filing receipt from the USPTO, around three months before filing the application.

If a client becomes aware of any references that are significant to the patentability while their patent is pending, a Supplemental IDS must be filed. A typical example is when a foreign patent office points out patents against a foreign counterpart of the US application, or the USPTO points out art in a similar US application.

If an applicant knowingly or intentionally fails to disclose prior art to the USPTO, any patent resulting from the application may be declared unenforceable. 

Prior art or background information typically includes past patents, patent applications, journal articles, books, or magazine articles of any language originating from any nation of the invention. 

These materials should be seen by the attorney preparing the application or prosecuting the application to prepare responses to the Examiner in the USPTO. If you wish to let our patent experts file an IDS for you, let them read and review the reference before filing it with the IDS.

A separate service fee of $350 is needed for preparing and filing an IDS with up to 20 references. The following additional fees will also apply:

  • For more than 20 references, a preparation fee will be quoted.
  • A quote will be provided for references you would like us to review that our patent experts have not reviewed.
  • For procuring references, when a client cannot supply a copy of a reference, additional fees might be charged by document suppliers.
  • A translation fee can be charged for references in a foreign language that do not have a US equivalent or translation on the internet.
  • A fee of $180 is charged for submitting an Information Disclosure Statement. This fee is reduced to $90 for Small Entities and $45 for Micro Entities.

Other documents and processing

A fee of approximately $200-300 is billed for the preparation of other documents. This happens when filing a separate application containing informal drawings or applications with “missing parts” is necessary. Moreover, additional fees are also billed for filing DNA sequence listings, CD-ROM listings, deposits of biological materials, etc.

Office actions

A Patent Examiner usually responds to an application nine to eighteen months after being filed. It is not unusual for applications to be rejected or to receive at least one office action. These objections may concern matters of form, or the Patent Examiner may have found prior patents in their search that they felt covered your invention.

Applicants are given three months to acknowledge and answer the Office Action by revising the claims, arguing against the rejections, or both. Note that this period can be extended up to six months from the date of the Office Action. However, you may need to pay extension fees. The fees are not generally set because the office actions vary in content. Contact us for more information about our fees in preparing a response.

In general, costs range from $1,200 to $3,500 for a response to a relatively uncomplicated office action. For a larger number of claims to amend, a larger number of references cited by the Patent Examiner, or if there is a need to prepare affidavits from experts and have to conduct personal interviews with the examiner and others, additional fees may be charged. Therefore, it isn't easy to provide a reliable estimate.

There is no guarantee of the number of times we will need to respond to USPTO office actions or appeal a rejection.

Publication of utility patent applications

The USPTO publishes U.S. utility patent applications on its website around 18 months after their filing date. The information published about the application appears precisely as it was filed. Remember that there will be no changes after filing the application in the initial publication.

Note that the 18 months is measured from the earliest filing date. Suppose you filed a provisional application first, a continuation, continuation-in-part, or a divisional of an earlier utility application. In that case, it will still be published 18 months after the earliest filing date in the chain of applications.


You can request that your application not be published. Be sure to make this request when filing the application, and only if the application will never be filed in a foreign country that requires publication or through the PCT.

If you later change your decision and find the need to file foreign or PCT applications, inform the USPTO immediately, or your U.S. application will be abandoned.

Issue patent

Currently, the regular issue fee is $960. This is reduced to $480 for Small Entities and $240 for Micro Entities. Once the Patent Examiner has concluded that the application may be issued as a patent, you will be given three months to pay the issue fee. There are also legal fees you need to settle. For the preparation and filing of papers, an $800 fee is required together with the issue fee. This fee also includes: reviewing the claims for errors, docketing, and reminding the client about the payment for the first maintenance fee.

Allow 3-4 months for the patent to be issued after paying the issue fee. 

Maintenance fees

The patent is valid for up to 20 years from filing the application. Note that this is from the date of the earliest non-provisional application in the chain, if a continuation, continuation in part or divisional application. Throughout the patent's life, periodic maintenance fees must be settled to prevent the patent from expiring.

We currently charge $250, which covers tracking fees listed below, reminding clients when payment is due, and filing the fee. Here are the current applicable maintenance fees:

  • 3.5 years after patent date: $1600 fee, reduced to $800 for Small Entities and $400 for Micro Entities.
  • 7.5 years after patent date: $3600, reduced to $1800 for Small Entities and $900 for Micro Entities
  • 11.5 years after patent date: $7400, reduced to $3700 for Small Entities, $1850 for Micro Entities

“Patent Date” is the date the Patent Office issued or granted the patent. This date is printed on the patent, generally in the upper right-hand corner of the first page, containing the code [45].

Are you ready to start the patenting process? Get an estimate now and connect with an expert patent attorney. We offer a full range of U.S intellectual property legal services, including trademarks and copyright. We believe in inventors and in protecting their intellectual property.