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What does a patent attorney cost?

Whenever you hire a patent attorney, you would want to receive an indication of the costs. The patent attorney will make an estimate of the costs and will tell you whether those costs counterbalance the expected benefits.

Patent attorney rates

Generally, patent attorneys are free to set their own rates, which are comparable to the rates charged by lawyers. A first meeting providing introductory advice usually is free of charge. Patent attorneys also set their own billing method, for instance on an hourly basis, or a fixed amount or a framework agreement. Patent attorneys in the Netherlands are not allowed to work on a 'no cure no pay' basis.

Making arrangements

Make clear arrangements in advance about the billing method and ask for an estimate of the costs and regular updates of the current financial situation. In case of an agreed hourly rate it is important to know how much time the patent attorney expects to spend on your case. Only a rough estimate can be given in advance, as there are many uncertain factors. It may be so that your case requires more time than expected. Your patent attorney should timely inform you about this.

Other patent costs

In all cases, a patent will also involve additional costs for:

  • a filing fee
  • a search fee (national or international search)
  • renewal fees to maintain your patent right, after grant
  • translation costs depening on the countries you want protection in

Costs of defending a patent

Usually you try to ensure that you do not infringe a competitor’s patent. However, might not be so prudent, or they infringe a (e.g. your) patent right by accident. Your own patents are not worth anything unless you are willing to defend them. You will therefore have to consider whether you can afford the costs of detecting and fighting infringement.

Applying for patents for innovations is most certainly lucrative for SMEs. Although smaller businesses often assume that the benefits do not counterbalance the costs, patenting has a positive effect on the profitability of SMEs, as has been demonstrated in research by the Universities of Groningen and Leuven.

Weighing up the costs and the benefits

Patent attorneys help you decide whether a patent is the best option in your situation. Is a patent possible and will it result in sufficient commercial and strategic benefit for you to justify the investment in applying for, managing and defending it? Advantages of a patent may for instance be:

  • a larger market share or a larger market
  • a higher price
  • greater interest of potential investors

Should it arise that patenting is not worthwhile, the patent attorney will advise you not to do it. The attorney may also suggest another, cheaper kind of protection for your idea, such as non-disclosure, a design or a trade mark.

“As a profession we are aware that our services do not come cheap. It is not hard for us to explain the added value we will provide.”

Also read: » Do I really need a patent attorney?