Time, Money Big Factors in Decision to Pursue Patent

One issue facing anyone seeking a patent in the United States is the backlog at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, said David Pieper, patent attorney and principal of Keisling & Pieper PLC.

Depending on the type of patent one is seeking, the wait can be anywhere from two and a half years to five years, he said.

(Click here to read about the patent law business in Arkansas.) 

"Your patent rights begin when your patent gets issued, and then your rights continue until 20 years from the date it was filed. So if there's a big delay from the time it's filed until it issues, that cuts into the length of the monopoly that's granted," he said.

The cost of obtaining a patent "can really vary a lot," said Charles Dougherty, a patent attorney and partner with Wright Lindsey & Jennings LLP. "For a simple invention, start to finish, getting it filed, you may easily be able to do it for $5,000, or even less. But for something more complex - especially when you're talking biotechnology or some of the more complex software-related inventions - it's going to be much higher than that. It's just a matter of the time involved in it."

Though there is a good deal of effort being made in the patent office right now to shorten the timeline, the wait is still long "and it's going to take a lot of work to get it down," Dougherty said.

The patent office backlog "does have a dramatic impact on folks," he said, "because having that patent in hand is something that is very important to inventors, especially when your client is a startup business, and they're trying to raise capital and they really need that process to move as quickly as it possibly can.

"It does a disservice to them, and it's incredibly frustrating, the time - that long wait that you go through," he said. "Of course, they can say 'patent pending' during all that time, but they don't have enforceable right."