Understanding Patent Attorney Fees

For many who have used intellectual property legal services in the past, fees can be one of the most confusing issues. What are you paying for when you hire a patent attorney?

To start with, it may be helpful to understand the requirements for becoming a patent attorney. To become a lawyer, most states require a four year college degree, followed by three years of law school. Afterwards, graduates must prove their knowledge by passing a bar and ethics exam. In addition, in order to be admitted to the patent bar (which has a pass rate below 50%) and register as a patent attorney, one must have an academic background (bachelors or masters degree) in science or engineering.

Patent costs vary from firm to firm. Certain services are available for a flat fee while others, such as litigation or complex patent prosecution, will be billed on an hourly basis. Most patent attorneys charge within a 10-20% range of each other. Be careful if you come across one that is charging 50% less than the going rate – this is an indication that he or she has a hard time keeping clients (due to poor work) or is inexperienced. Also keep in mind that a particular attorney may have a slightly higher hourly rate that the other, but be a faster worker, which means your monthly bills will be lower. This is a good reason to find an attorney based on positive referrals.

Some inventors look for creative billing situations, where they promise the attorney a portion of the patent rights in exchange for their legal work. Some attorneys may be open to these types of agreements, but most are not. There is a long path from an idea’s conception to its commercial success, and inventors who have not yet made a financial investment into their invention tend to walk away faster when they encounter an obstacle. Investing money into your patent will actually drive your own commitment to it’s monetization.

Click here to see a list of Cislo & Thomas’ typical fees.