The cost to prepare and prosecute a patent vary greatly, and is based on a number of factors, says Terry Clark, an intellectual property attorney with the firm of Bass, Berry & Sims in Washington, D.C.

Utility patents (the type commonly sought in the pool and spa industry) are much more involved than a design patent, so the price to prosecute one is much higher.

Some factors that play into the price of preparing a utility patent include the sophistication of the technology, the number of disclosed inventions, and the length of the disclosure, Clark explains.

In addition, there are fees to prosecute the patent, and this price depends on, among other things, how crowded the art may be, the nature of the invention, the examiner assigned to the application, how many claims are involved, and how aggressive the applicant is in securing the broadest protection.

“Recognizing that fees vary greatly, an applicant should expect to spend at least $5,000 to $10,000 for a design case, and $15,000 to $20,000 for a utility application,” he says. 

Part of that cost includes fees for the United States Patent and Trademark Office. First, there’s a non-refundable filing fee, which covers the cost of having an application examined, and ranges from $125 to $380. For applications filed in paper, there’s an additional charge of either $200 or $400.

The patent search fee runs between $60 to $620. There’s also an examination fee that ranges from $80 to $750. Then there are three maintenance fees, due at the three-and-a-half-year, seven-and-a-half-year and 11-and-a-half-year marks, starting at $565.

On top of these, the USPTO charges for appeals, extensions, post-allowances and other miscellaneous activity. These costs are subject to change, however, and those considering an application should refer to for the most current information.