How much does a patent cost?

Bringing an idea or invention to life involves many costs: Prototypes, adaptations, labour - and a patent. This includes not only the costs for drafting and prosecuting the patent application, but also for prior counselling and - ideally - ongoing patent monitoring. But what does a patent actually cost? In this article, we show you what expenses to expect.

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How to apply for a patent?

The first question that founders and entrepreneurs often ask is: How do I apply for a patent? In order to successfully apply for a patent, a number of criteria must first be met. If this is not the case, the patent application may be rejected.

The most important requirements for a successful patent application are

  • Your invention is new.
  • The invention was discovered through an inventive step (obvious changes to existing technology are not registrable).
  • The invention is technically feasible.

The application is filed with a responsible patent office. In Germany, the DPMA is responsible for this, but patents can also be registered throughout Europe or internationally - even in individual countries. It is advisable to carry out a comprehensive patent search in the registers beforehand in order to rule out a rejection in the application procedure or a later opposition or nullity.

Checklist: Step by step to the patent

Although a checklist does not replace legal advice from an experienced and specialised patent attorney, it can help with initial orientation. In the following, we have summarised step by step how the process from the idea to the granted patent works:

  1. Conduct a patent search:
    Similar to the trade mark search, it is advisable to carry out a patent search before filing the application. This can provide an initial assessment of whether it is worth initiating the patent application process at all. In addition, a patent search can provide information on whether existing patents may be infringed by the use of your own invention. A patent search can therefore prevent legal disputes with older patent holders.
  2. Complete the patent application:
    A German patent can be filed with the DPMA, whereby certain formal requirements must be met. In particular, the details of the invention and the applicant data must be provided. Since the technically precise and correct description of the subject matter of protection is very important, legal assistance is advisable.
  3. Pay the fees:
    The application for a patent is subject to a fee. In German proceedings before the DPMA, these fees must be paid within 3 months of the filing date at the latest.
  4. Disclose the patent:
    The patent application initially remains secret and is usually only published by the DPMA after 18 months. During the first 12 months, subsequent applications can also be filed, especially abroad.
  5. Undergo patent examination:
    In order for the initial patent application to become a patent, it must undergo a procedure in which the Office examines whether the invention applied for fulfils the legal requirements (in particular novelty and inventive step) for patenting. To this end, the Office issues notifications to which the applicant must respond with arguments or claim amendments. 6. Have the patent granted: After successful examination, the patent is granted. Only then is there complete patent protection.

Patent application: These costs arise

A patent application goes through various procedural steps in the process up to grant, which is why - depending on the course of the procedure - different costs (may) arise. The amount of the investment also depends on how comprehensively your patent is to be protected and what measures are required for this. If you skimp on the patent search or collision monitoring, you can expect to spend more money on legal disputes in the long term.

In addition to the actual invention and development of the product, the following costs in particular are to be expected for a patent:

  • Costs for the patent search
  • Costs for drafting the patent application
  • Application fees (including 10 patent claims in Germany)
  • Costs for further patent claims, if applicable
  • Costs for examination and grant
  • Patent monitoring (also known as collision monitoring)
  • Annual fees for the renewal of the patent or patent application

This list is not exhaustive and can be specified individually. We will be happy to advise you transparently and comprehensively on all expected costs in an initial consultation.

Real talk: How much is a patent?

The individual costs incurred always depend on the specific case. To illustrate the approximate costs to be expected, we will give you an insight into the cost structure of a patent application with specific figures. However, the costs can vary greatly depending on the patent.

Costs for a German patent

To apply for a German patent, a corresponding application must be filed with the DPMA. If this is submitted electronically, a fee of 40 euros will be charged. This includes 10 patent claims. If more patent claims are desired, the fee increases by 20 euros each.

Once the patent application has been filed, protection is initially valid for 2 years. Further costs are incurred for the annual maintenance fees (also known as "renewal fees") payable from the 3rd patent year onwards. The patent or patent application then costs

  • 70 euros from the 3rd year,
  • 100 euros from the 5th year and
  • 150 euros from the 6th year.

In order to initiate the examination of the patent application, it is also necessary to pay an examination fee (currently: 350 euros).

In the rest of the DACH region, the application fees are significantly higher: patent applications in Austria cost 322 euros and in Switzerland 200 CHF. Each additional patent claim here costs 104 euros or 50 CHF. On the other hand, patents are valid for longer: In Switzerland, the patent is valid for 3 years without payment of annual fees, in Austria even for 5 years. Only after that do fees apply, which are staggered as in Germany.

Costs for a European patent

A European patent (also known as an EP patent) can provide protection in over 39 countries (including all EU member states) and is therefore more cost-intensive than a national patent application. The application fee for an electronic application for a European patent is 120 euros, including 15 patent claims. For 15 or more claims, an additional fee of 275 euros is charged for each additional claim, and 685 euros for 51 or more claims.

In addition, search fees and, later in the procedure, examination, designation and grant fees must be paid, in total just under 5,200 euros. This means that the official costs for a European patent at the EPO are already significantly higher than for German protection.

Costs for a Unitary patent in the EU

When the European patent is granted, it is divided into national parts, for which the relevant formal requirements must be met before the national offices in order to obtain protection in the respective country (e.g. translations or appointment of national representatives).

The EU patent (also known as the "unitary patent") can cover a large number of EU countries at once, meaning that a unitary patent can be a more cost-effective alternative in order to reduce annual fees and administrative costs.

The unitary patent currently covers 17 countries in Europe that participate in enhanced cooperation (as of June 2024). It is expected that there will be 25 participating states in the long term.

In the 10th year, a fee of 1,175 euros will be due for the unitary patent. If all these states were to be included in a traditional European patent, the fee would be more than 5,000 euros.

Costs for an international patent

An international patent is also possible and can be applied for at the DPMA, the EPO or the WIPO. Depending on the office, the fees to be paid, such as application, transmission and search fees, vary and amount to around 2,500 euros.

However, these are only the initial costs of the application and the subsequent search. At the earliest 30 months after the international application, the applicant can - in most countries-initiate the national phase before the desired national and/or regional offices. Fees for formal requirements (e.g. translation, appointment of national representatives) as well as national filing and renewal fees are then due for each office. The total amount for an international patent therefore depends heavily on the countries or association of countries selected.

Please note: The costs shown are only the official costs for a patent application (as of June 2024). We advise you to seek legal advice before filing an application and during the examination process and to carry out a patent search.

Both are associated with costs, but these are much higher if a patent examination is unsuccessful due to a lack of research or if there is a patent infringement and a legal dispute arises. This not only damages your finances, but also the reputation of your company.

We will be happy to provide you with comprehensive support in all areas - contact us at any time!

Costs for patent monitoring

In addition to the patent search and the patent application, the running costs, in particular the annual fees, must also be taken into account. Long-term patent monitoring in particular can be worthwhile for founders and entrepreneurs and, in our view, is essential to ensure the effective protection of your patent.
Collision monitoring prevents similar or identical products from being patented after your own. This ensures that legal action can be taken against imitators at an early stage. This is precisely the purpose of the patent application - so you can fully utilise your rights as the patent holder.

The costs for patent monitoring can vary greatly. This also depends on whether you use patent monitoring software and carry out the monitoring yourself or commission a service provider (e.g. a patent attorney’s office) to do so.

Conclusion: Careful advice can reduce costs of a patent!

Applying for a patent involves various costs. The preparation and drafting of the actual application is particularly important. Good patent research and careful drafting can prevent a potential legal dispute with existing patent holders, for example. This not only saves costs in the long term, but also protects the company's reputation. It can also prevent a patent application from being rejected. We would be happy to provide you with comprehensive support on the subject of patents!

As a firm specialised in patent and trademark law, we have the expertise and the right tools to support you with your searches and patents. Thanks to our decades of experience, we can also provide you with comprehensive advice on the possible options and give you an assessment of the market and legal situation and the costs involved. We are also happy to take care of the entire patent application process for you. Please feel free to make an appointment with us.