Author: Birute Dauderiene, patent consultant
With more and more Lithuanian inventors choosing the world’s biggest markets for patenting their inventions, the issues of patenting costs are becoming increasingly relevant in countries, such as the United States, Japan, China, and Russia. It is important to note that a significant amount of money has to be earmarked for patenting, depending on the complexity of the invention. All patenting costs may be divided in three, namely, money for patent attorney, money for state fees and money for translations. The costs are distributed across the entire period of application and patent lifetime: submission of the application, processing, examination, issuing of patent and annual fees.
According to preliminary calculations, Japan boasts the highest patenting costs. Submitting a patent application in Japan costs as much as USD 8,500, the examination fee is around USD 2,200. Don’t forget the costs of patent processing, which make approximately USD 5,000-7,000 and the patent issuing fee, which totals an average of USD 1,000. In addition, there are costly translations and we get the top patent in terms of costs. If an expert recognises the invention as patentable immediately, the patent holder may expect to receive the patent in about four years. If not, processing of the application may take another 18 months with the possibility of appeal.
The second most expensive patent is in the United States, and this is the country often chosen by Lithuanian inventors after securing a European patent. As Lithuanians often first file national or international applications, they save money by turning to a local patent attorney. Imagine addressing a US patent attorney with your idea – you may have to pay between USD 5,000 and 10,000 for a meeting, preparation of the description of the invention, and the submission of the application of the simplest invention. If the invention has to do with a business method or software, the costs could be USD 16,000 and up. Lithuanian applicants file applications to the US after an international application, which reduces the application costs by up to USD 2,000-3,000, as the application had already been translated into English. Then the application is being processed, which may cost around USD 4,500-8,000, depending on expert inquiries. The patent costs approximately USD 1,500. The examination may take two to four years. The costs include the work of patent attorney, however, state fees are an extra. A professional patent attorney may cost between USD 200 and 500 per hour. There are cheaper options, however, there is a risk of low-quality services. In the US one can choose a patent attorney or an agent as a representative. The latter cost less. Patenting a utility model is also a bit cheaper.
China is the third most expensive country for patents. In China, there are also two forms of protecting inventions: a utility model and a patent. An applicant may expect to receive a utility model patent in under a year, while a patent is issued within 2.5 to 5 years. In China, filing a patent application costs around USD 4,500, the examination fee is approximately USD 600. Application processing may cost another USD 2,500-6,000, while issuing of a patent will come at another around USD 1,000. Depending on the size of the invention, translation costs make a substantial share of the costs.
Russia is one of the countries that interest Lithuanian inventors due to its big market and geographical location. In Russia, protection can be secured in two ways, namely, by filing a Eurasian application that covers nine countries, including Russia, or filing a national application. Filing an application costs around USD 4,500, the examination fee is about USD 800, application processing costs about USD 3,500 and a patent is issued for around USD 700. Although the prices are preliminary, let’s try calculating the patenting costs in different countries: about USD 18,700 in Japan, about USD 10,300 in the US, about USD 10,100 in China and about USD 9,500 in Russia. If you plan filing applications to all of the countries, you should also expect to spend USD 48,000, which should be paid within four to five years. If an expert finds your invention patentable immediately, the costs are reduced by approximately 30 percent.
Without doubt, an applicant can represent his application and receive a patent without a patent attorney. It may seem simple – you invented something yourself and are best familiar with the product. However, the description and the definition of the invention involves a legal aspect, which defines the scope of patent protection. This work requires specific knowledge and making a patent after reading the rules like a recipe book may not always be successful. Such unskilled application may lack taste or nutrition quality, also be burnt or inedible, i.e., unpatentable.
Realising that proving the invention as patentable is more difficult with time, it is important to find a way between existing applications and patents, to constantly observe and follow strict deadlines. If we want to have a strong patent and later protect it against offenders, we should not be surprised by the high costs for the work of patent attorneys in the course of the patenting efforts.