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By Richard Gearhart
Founding Partner

Software Patent Cost 2024

Obtaining a software patent can be a wise investment for companies looking to protect their intellectual property and gain a competitive edge in the market. However, the patent attorney fees and other costs associated with acquiring and maintaining a software patent may cause some businesses to shy away from the process. This article will provide an overview of the typical software patent costs in 2024, broken down into the various stages and services involved.

We believe in keeping the patent process easy and simple for our clients. Call one of our experienced patent attorneys at 908-273-0700 today for more information.

The Main Cost Components of a Software Patent

The three primary expenses for obtaining a software patent are:

  • Patent attorney fees for preparing and filing the application

  • USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) filing, search, and examination fees

  • Maintenance fees to keep the patent active once granted

Breakdown of Average Attorney Fees

Hiring a registered patent attorney to prepare and file the application is extremely important. Patent attorneys charge between $5,000-$7,000 to prepare a basic software patent application. However, costs can increase to $10,000-$15,000 for a moderately complex software invention.

The exact attorney fees will depend on:

  • The seniority and experience level of the patent attorney

  • The complexity of the software or code that needs to be described

  • The amount of time required for preparing patent drawings

  • Whether you require assistance conducting a prior art search

More complicated software patents that describe intricate algorithms or methods may require over $15,000 in attorney fees. Simple applications for basic software functions can possibly be obtained for under $7,500.

Shopping around and negotiating rates is crucial, as attorney fees can vary widely. Working with a dedicated intellectual property law firm who are skilled in software patents is crucial.

USPTO Filing, Search, and Examination Charges

In addition to attorney services, you’ll have to pay various fees to the US Patent and Trademark Office during the application process:

  • Basic filing fee – $60-320

  • Search fee – $140-$700

  • Examination fee – $160-$800

The total amount of the fees depends on the size of your company; smaller companies pay less than larger companies.  Note that “small entity” applicants qualify for reduced rates of 50% off these base amounts.

After filing, the USPTO does a prior art search to ensure the invention meets patentability requirements. They also perform a substantive examination of the software patent application before making a final decision on granting the patent. Both stages involve additional USPTO fees.

Patent Maintenance Fees to Keep Protection Active

Once a software patent is issued, maintenance fees are required at 4, 8 and 12 year intervals to keep patent protection active:

  • 3.5 year fee – $400-$2,000

  • 7.5 year fee – $752-$3,760

  • 11.5 year fee – $1,540-$7,700

Software patents filed today will cost $7,000 in total maintenance fees by year 12 of protection. Again, small entity discounts reduce these amounts by half.

What is the Total Cost for a Software Patent in 2024?

The complete costs for obtaining and maintaining a software patent will generally fall between $15,000 to $25,000+, depending on:

a) Attorney Fees

  • Experience level of patent attorney used

  • Complexity factors like prior art searches

b) USPTO Fees

  • Regular vs. small entity vs micro applicant status

c) Maintenance Fees

  • Number of years protection will be kept active

While not cheap, a software patent can provide serious value for companies commercializing innovative code and algorithms. For many, the benefits of securing exclusive rights to technology outweigh the steep upfront investment.

Common Additional Costs to Factor In

Other optional, but often recommended, services and fees contribute to the total software patent cost:

Prior Art Search – $1,500 to $3,000

A prior art search from the patent attorney helps determine if the software is truly novel compared to existing patents and inventions. This reduces wasted effort on unpatentable technology and improves the application’s chances of being approved.

Responding to Office Actions – $2,000+

During examination, the patent office may issue one or more office actions rejecting the application or requiring clarification. Responding often incurs additional attorney time and fees.

Patent Drawings – $500 to $2,000

Visual drawings may be required to illustrate the software’s key concepts and flows. Your patent attorney can prepare professional diagrams or hire a draftsperson.

Foreign Filing Fees

Pursing patent protection in other countries involves translations, local lawyers and other costs. Foreign patents provide broader commercial rights but are not essential.

Accelerated Examination – $2,000

You can request accelerated examination to get a patent approval decision within 12 months. This optional USPTO service has a fee but can be worthwhile.

Factors That Can Increase Software Patent Costs

Certain elements tend to increase the amount of lawyer time and complexity involved in preparing a solid software patent application:

  • Extremely detailed code or logic requiring intricate documentation

  • Algorithms using complex mathematical formulas

  • Subject matter involving multiple linked software systems or components

  • Input/output aspects like advanced GUIs or data visualizations

  • Having large amounts of relevant prior art needing review

  • Broad software concepts requiring narrowing to pass approval

Software involving advanced machine learning, intricate cybersecurity systems, or cutting-edge cryptography tend to sit at the most complex end of the spectrum based on the sophisticated descriptions required.

Ways to Reduce Your Software Patent Costs

Here are a few tips to control costs and minimize expenses where possible:

  • Work with cost-effective patent attorneys – Find those offering competitive rates and lean operations without sacrificing quality. Use flat fee pricing when available.

  • Start with a narrow patent focus – Initial protection for your core algorithm or process is cheaper than broad claims. You can file continuations later to expand coverage.

  • Do some prior research yourself – Performing your own basic prior art search in-house first can minimize attorney research time later.

  • Reuse similar specifications – Leverage existing patent text from your earlier filings if applicable to describe background concepts.

  • Request small entity discounts – Take advantage of the 50% USPTO fee reductions if your company qualifies as a small business.

  • Consider micro-patents – These ultra low-cost applications only protect a very specific software process or method.

  • Defer foreign patents initially – Apply only in the US first. Add international rights later once the core IP is secured.

Key Takeaways on Software Patent Costs for 2024

  • Attorney fees make up the largest portion of the total cost, ranging from $7,500 to $15,000+ in typical cases.

  • USPTO filing, search and examination fees add roughly $1,800 to $2,600 in government costs.

  • Maintenance fees to keep protection active until year 12 will be around $7,000.

  • Prior art searches, patent drawings, and drafting specifications represent additional common expenses.

  • Total software patent costs from start to finish generally land between $15,000 – $25,000.

  • The complexity of the code covered, attorney rates, and other factors create variability.

  • Following costs savings tips and applying only for true software innovations can help justify the investment.

Getting air-tight software patent protection is rarely cheap, but well worth the price for many organizations developing unique and valuable code and algorithms. Understanding the cost breakdown helps set realistic budget expectations before committing to the patent process.

Frequently Asked Questions About Software Patent Costs

1. What is the average cost for a software patent attorney?

The typical attorney fees range from $7,500 to $15,000, with rates depending on experience level, complexity, and geographic location. Many software patents fall in the $10,000 to $12,000 range.

2. Does a software patent need to have code examples?

While not an absolute requirement, including code examples in the patent helps illustrate the invention for examiners. This improves clarity but can increase attorney time for code abstraction.

3. Can I get a software patent without hiring a patent attorney?

No, only a registered patent attorney or patent agent can legally represent inventors before the USPTO for drafting and filing a utility patent application.

4. Is a software patent worth the cost for my small company?

For early stage startups focused on commercializing unique software, a patent likely provides worthwhile protection against competitors copying core IP.

5. How can I reduce the cost of my software patent application?

Strategies like narrowing the scope and requesting small entity status help control overall patent costs.

Getting patented software protection certainly isn’t cheap, but for innovative code and algorithms, it is likely one of the wisest investments your company can make. With careful planning and cost management, the process can pay dividends for years to come. Discuss your budget and options with a registered patent attorney to map out the most cost-effective path forward.

Choosing The Right Patent Attorney

At Gearhart Law, we ensure that our client’s brands and businesses are protected and help you file your patent. To consult our knowledgeable attorneys, call us at 908-273-0700 for your free consultation.

The content herein is meant to be educational only and not to substitute for legal advice.  If you have a legal question please consult an attorney.

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About the Author
Richard Gearhart, Esq. is the founder of Gearhart Law and the host of a weekly radio show for entrepreneurs called “Passage to Profit”. He has built a firm with an international presence that helps entrepreneurs from around the world with their patent, trademark and copyright needs. Richard commands a breadth of experience that comes from nearly 30 years of practice in the writing and prosecution of hundreds of patents, and in all aspects of Intellectual Property law. In 2022, Richard was recognized by ROI New Jersey as a 2022 ROI Influencer in the Law List category for being one of the best of the best in New Jersey for intellectual property law. Gearhart Law emerged from Richard’s passion for entrepreneurship and startups and his belief that entrepreneurship grows the economy and creates jobs. When we started Gearhart Law, our goal was to help and support the new business ventures of 500 entrepreneurs and inventors. After 12 years, the firm has far surpassed this goal; today, we look forward to helping even more inventors and entrepreneurs get off to a great start and reach their own goals.