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Old 15th July 2005, 12:56 AM   #1
Wizard of Kelts
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Default What Are The Costs Of Patenting Something?

One of our members has an idea for a loudspeaker enclosure design to possibly patent. He doesn't necessarily think the new enclosure will be used by anyone-though you never know-but it sure would like nice on a resume.

What is minimum cost that it would take to patent?

What is the realistic cost it would take?

And finally, if he did expect to make money from it, how much would it cost to properly prepare the patent so people could not easily circumvent it?

The discussion on costs of patenting need not be confined to US patents-input about other countries is welcome.
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Old 15th July 2005, 01:06 AM   #2
SY is offline SY  United States
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It's quite variable. First, patenting outside the US is quite expensive, made so (IMO) deliberately to protect the interests of large companies.

If you can write your own patent (Nolo Press has a terrific guide to doing so), you can probably see things through the USPTO for $2-3K or so. Using an attorney and assuming you don't have to battle past an idiot examiner will take you to $6-7K or so. Getting an EU patent, by contrast, starts at roughly $10K before legal expenses, and the EPO will do everything it can to run your tab as high as possible. They hate having inventors do their own patents.

Actually enforcing the patent is where the real money comes in. $500K is a minimum just in pretrial costs.

A patent looks nice on the resume if someone else is paying for it.
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Old 15th July 2005, 02:19 AM   #3
lgreen is offline lgreen  United States
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Agreed, doing a DIY patent is cheap but not necessarily smart.

Filing fees are not very high though. A "small entity" (a person or company with less than 50 people) will pay 50% of the sandard fees which I think are $300 to file and $200 per claim in excess of 3 that you get for free. You are a small entity.

Standard search fee of $500 and examination fee of $200. Issue fee is $1400, and you pay a maintenence fee of $900 at 3.5 years, $2300 at 7.5 years and so on.

check out the PTO Fee Schedule.

Foreign filing is very expensive due to higher fees, more expensive attorneys and TRANSLATION fees-- $100 per page or so in some cases; you have to file in certain languages in certain places.

Expensive lawyers are not necessarily better but most cheap ones are terrible. Don't use an invention service- they will rip you off and file a piece of crap, usually a "design" patent which are essentially useless.

Patent litigation will be 500K MIN, typically 1.-3 M for the entire case.

still want to do this?
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Old 15th July 2005, 02:22 AM   #4
lgreen is offline lgreen  United States
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Default Re: What Are The Costs Of Patenting Something?

Quote:
Originally posted by kelticwizard

And finally, if he did expect to make money from it, how much would it cost to properly prepare the patent so people could not easily circumvent it?

Let me answer this now-- this is done when you file the application.

The coverage of a patent is dictated by the "claims" at the end. If you say "1. a speaker cabinet of triangular shape." you will cover all speakers of triangular shape. Impossible to circumvent if people really need to make triangular speakers. Of course you will get rejected by the PTO because such speakers exist or were obvious. The trick is to draft a claim that gives you coverage for what you invented but no more, with varying degrees of detail. Such as "1. a speaker cabinet of traingular shape, with internal lateral cross bracing and rounded edges" is a little more detailed but can be circumvented if the competition leaves out the lateral cross braces. Then again, maybe you need those to show what you did that was different from what came before. And so on.

This claim drafting is what a good patent attorney should do for you up front and througout the application process. After a rejection you narrow or change your claims to overcome what came before and eventually get some reasonable coverage.

Go to the PTO patent search page and check out some patents, Nelson's got a few. Read the claims and see if you can figure out what they cover.

- still interested?
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Old 16th July 2005, 01:42 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies, SY and lgreen. They were very helpful.

Actually, I was inspired to start this thread by the situation of another member, not for myself. Though, like probably most people on this forum, I have a general interest in patents just in case one of my ideas turns out to "Eureka" worthy, LOL.

$2K - $3K does not sound all that outrageous for a patent. The cost is not negligible, but you might come close to that if the transmission goes on your car.

The person who inspired this thread is an engineering student who considered patenting a loudspeaker enclosure more for how good it looked on his resume than any particular hope of getting money off it. It is up to him to decide if $2K - $3K is a lot to spend to make the resume more impressive, but considering the cost of a college education, it might not be the worst idea in the world.

Maybe we should start a thread on "How much more impressive will your engineering resume look if you can list a patent for something that actually works?".
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Old 16th July 2005, 01:43 AM   #6
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By the way, how about Japan and the rest of Asia?
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Old 16th July 2005, 02:21 AM   #7
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Don't even think about that without a Japanese law firm. VERY expensive and unlikely to be issued to gaijin without many, many years of waiting.

Oh, yes, let's talk about the wait between application and issuance...
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Old 16th July 2005, 02:22 AM   #8
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if you want to protect an idea, how about this...

Draw up the plans, have them checked carefully to your exact specification. Include a detailed description of your design or "improvement", go to a notary and have it stamped and sealed and then mail it to yourself. Don't open it, unless you have a solid case and then present it to a patent lawyer.

If you thought of the idea first, you should be covered, because it is signed and sealed by a notary and it has gone thru the govenment mail. Just don't break the seal!

I'm sure there are holes in this method, as someone will surely explain. But, I'd like to know what the experts think.
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Old 16th July 2005, 02:30 AM   #9
SY is offline SY  United States
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BTW, does George Augsperger still write those wonderful patent reviews for JAES?
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Old 16th July 2005, 02:41 AM   #10
agent.5 is offline agent.5  United States
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and you can forget about enforcement in China.
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