Patent FAQs

Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about patents below. For a more in depth review of your specific case, call (800) 451-4041 for a free consultation, or contact our local offices to speak with a patent attorney in Albany, New York City, Phoenix, Washington DC, or Boston.

How Much Does a Patent Cost?

Patents can cost between $900 and $15,000 or more depending on the complexity of the invention. The cost of a patent includes filing fees with the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office, as well as patent search fees, drawing fees and attorney fees.

The cost also varies depending on the type of patent application (provisional, non-provisional, design patent, plant patent, worldwide patent, etc.) and other factors, including the size of the business that is filing for the patent, the demand and competitiveness of the market, and the number of countries in which the company or individual is filing.

Our patent lawyers can give you a more exact estimate after they review your proposed invention.

When Does a Patent Expire?

Typically, a utility patent is good for 20 years from the application filing date. However, the term of the patent depends on the type of patent, as well as when and where the patent was filed. The patentee is also required to pay periodic maintenance fees to keep the patent term from lapsing prematurely.

In the United States, utility patents filed on or after June 8, 1995 are generally good for 20 years from the filing date, as long as the patent is issued and all maintenance fees are paid. If filed before June 8, 1995, the patent is good for the longer of either 17 years from the date of issue or 20 years from the filing date, again assuming the patent is issued and maintenance fees are paid.

Design patents on or after May 13, 2015 are good for 15 years from the date the patent is granted, while design patents before May 13, 2015 are only good for 14 years from the date the patent is granted. Plant patents expire 20 years from the application filing date.

Can a Patent be Renewed?

An expired patent can only be renewed through an act of Congress or, in rare cases, a patent extension may be issued. Patents subject to regulatory review, such as by the FDA, can be extended up to 5 years to cover a portion of the review period.

Once a patent expires, it becomes part of the public domain and anyone can attempt to profit from the invention without the inventor’s permission.

Is there a Database of Existing Patents?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) maintains a database of existing patents and published patent applications. You can conduct your search online, visit the Public Search Facility in Alexandria VA, find a Patent and Trademark Resource Center near you, or enlist the help of a patent attorney.

Inventors are encouraged to search the USPTO’s patent database prior to filing a patent application to ensure that the patent has not already been filed, or a similar patent has not been granted.

Do I need a Patent Attorney?

You do not need a patent attorney to obtain a patent, but doing so without legal advice is not recommended. Writing a patent is a very complex and difficult undertaking, and patent law is highly technical, even if your invention is relatively simple.

Patent attorneys are uniquely trained in patent law and they usually specialize in a particular area of expertise, providing them with an in depth understanding of the inventions that they represent. In fact, many of the patent attorneys at Schmeiser, Olsen & Watts possess technical degrees, as well as professional experience in biotechnology, chemistry, computer science, electrical, mechanical arts, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and optics.

While their knowledge comes at an expense, patent attorneys can actually save inventors time and money by ensuring the patent application is both complete and correct. It is also better to have legal representation in the event that there is a patent-related lawsuit.


The contents of this webpage are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Please call (800) 451-4041 for a free consultation, or contact our local offices to speak with a patent attorney in Albany, New York City, Phoenix, Washington DC, or Boston.