How much does a British patent cost?

This is probably the question we’re asked most often, and the best answer you’ll get from most IP lawyers is “it depends“.  Whilst that may be true, it’s not really an answer!  This article aims to provide some clarity on UK patent costs. (Spoiler alert – jump to answer!)

As you may already know, we work, wherever possible, on a fixed-fee basis, and that has two main benefits.

  1. The customer knows, in advance, what a particular job will cost; and
  2. It forces us to keep on-track and focus on the job at hand.  When you bill per-hour, it is easy to go off on tangents, and undertake “nice to have” work, as opposed to staying focused and only doing what is needed.

Fixed-fee billing, in our opinion, provides clarity, and keeps costs down.  Client feedback confirms that this is right approach.

However, even our fixed-fee model has variables.  Whilst we can quote fixed-fees for almost anything, including drafting, filing and prosecution (i.e. responding to formal and substantive examination reports); what we can’t know or fix is how the Patent Office will react.  In some cases, the Patent Office accepts what we say, whereas other times, there is some push-back.  This is how it should be: and we wouldn’t be doing our job properly (securing the best scope of protection possible) if we weren’t working in grey areas much of the time. There is often a fine line between a claim that is too broad, and thus invalid; and a claim that is too narrow, and hence not infringed by a competitor.

As such, some applications are examined relatively easily (where there is a clear delineation between the claim and the prior art, and where the claim is commercially effective); whereas others take more effort (where the client needs to push the boundary somewhat to ensure that a claim reads-onto a competitor’s product or process).  In the former case, there can be just one “round” of examination, whereas in the latter case, there may be several rounds.  This is where costs can quickly escalate.

As part of our ongoing effort to demystify patent prosecution, we have carried out some statistical analysis on our own UK cases.  For the purposes of this analysis, we only considered direct UK patent applications (i.e. those filed from the outset as UK patent applications; and not UK national phase applications, divisionals, or EP(UK) patents); and only those that actually granted as patents.

According to our analysis, the average cost of a UK patent, drafted, filed and prosecuted by us – from initial filing to grant – is just: £4,663.  The standard deviation is £1,292, which indicates quite a bit of variability (for which see the considerations above), with the lowest cost being £2,750, and the highest cost being £8,500.

So there you have it: the cost of a UK patent is likely to be between £2,750 and £8,500, with the average cost being £4,663.

If you want to discuss the costs of patents, please feel free to contact us.

Now for the small print:

  1. The costs mentioned above exclude VAT at 20%.  If you pay UK VAT, you can add 20% to the above costs from the get-go
  2. We only looked at cases on our docket (obviously, as we have no idea what other firms charge!)
  3. We only looked at granted, British patents and did not consider any cases that fell by the wayside for whatever reason.  For applications that did not mature into granted patents, there may be various valid reasons for this:
    1. The client may have just abandoned for commercial reasons, such as the tech becoming obsolete
    2. The client may have abandoned for patent-related reasons, such as the scope of protection that was available (due to the prior art) may not have afforded commercially-useful protection
    3. The client may have abandoned for financial reasons, such as the cost of arguing for allowance exceeded the value of the tech involved
    4. The case may have been refused because it the invention was not patentable (we often don’t know this until after an application has been filed and searched)
  4. We did not consider other types of “British” patent, such as UK national phase, or UK validations of EPO patents (which are fixed fee anyway).