Many factors determine patent attorney fees and, because this process can be very expensive, it normally is good for a person to be familiar with the potential fees before starting the process. The complexity of the item being patented plays into patent attorney fees, because complex items require more claims and overall more work from the attorney. Along with the complexity of the patent, the strength of the claim also matters, because stronger protections normally cost more. The attorney usually will charge his hourly rate along with special rates for patent work, so the hourly rate can change the overall cost. If any background work is needed, such as a patent search or drawings, this also can increase the cost.
One of the biggest factors in determining patent attorney fees is the complexity of the patent. This is because, as items get more complex, there are more claims needed to get a patent finalized. This means simpler items generally cost less to take through the process, while complex items generally cost more. Simple items likely would be items such as cups or pens, while complex items might be software or hardware systems.
A similar factor in determining patent attorney fees is the strength of the patent. There are varying levels of strength and the price increases with that strength. At the same time, a stronger patent attempts to further protect the person filing for the patent, perhaps by allowing him to press charges for more things or by making the patent viable for business or marketing. Patented items that will be sold normally require stronger patents.
Most attorneys charge hourly rates based on their experience and prestige in the legal field. With patents, attorneys normally will charge both their normal hourly rate and an extra rate for patent work. The extra rate usually is stable, but the regular hourly rate for attorneys can be highly variable.
The attorney sometimes has to do background work before the patent can be filed and, if the attorney has to perform these tasks, then he generally will ask for more money than if the filer did it for himself. This background work tends to be required, so the filer may want to do it himself to avoid higher patent attorney fees. Background work can include doing a patent search — some attorney may not represent the filer if he does not do this — making drawings of the invention or filling out applications.