A company recently approached me and asked me "Can you give me a quote for a patent?". Although I fully understand that question, the answer is not quite as straightforward as many people may think. The costs of a patent very much depend on a customer's wishes and requirements. And although some of the costs are predictable, others are not. So if you want a quote for a patent application, there are a number of things you have to consider first and you should be prepared to answer a few questions.
How does the patent fit into your business plan?
When I prepare a patent application, the first thing I always do is draw up a step-by-step plan together with my client. The first question I always ask is: how does the patent fit into your business plan? In other words: how are you going to make money with this patent? Is the patent intended purely for your company's own use and is your main aim to stop others from copying your invention or do you want to issue licences and make money out of it that way? The purpose of the patent partly determines the route that we choose in the patent plan and therefore the associated costs.
In which countries are your customers and competitors based?
Are you a purely Dutch company, with Dutch customers or are you a more internationally orientated one? Where are your customers and competitors based? You can make a patent application as comprehensive as you want, but the question is whether it is really necessary to do so. I can apply for a patent for you in various countries. However, it is not always necessary to do so and it is also more expensive.
So you need to ask yourself where your patent should apply. Applying for a worldwide patent is only really of interest for a handful of very large companies. Most of my clients opt for ten countries or fewer. Make a list for yourself of which countries are relevant to you. This can then be taken into account in the quote.
What is your budget?
How much can you afford to spend on a patent? For the first two to three years, the costs can be predicted fairly accurately, but after that things become a little bit more complicated. This is because the granting procedure outside the Netherlands tends to differ from country to country. In some cases the procedure is more complicated than others. The process also depends on a client's wishes. Is it necessary to fight hard to obtain maximum protection, even though the chance of success is slim, or is it simply enough to go for a slightly more limited form of protection to achieve the commercial goals?
EP&C always conducts an initial - free of charge - introductory meeting to discuss what would be advisable for your business and innovation. Based on this we give honest advice. And sometimes my advice may be that it would be better not to apply for a patent, but to keep the invention secret and just go ahead and start making it. Whatever the advice may be, you will always receive a transparent overview of the expected costs for your particular situation.
When should I apply for a patent?
A client who says "Can you give me a quick quote?" may not be quite ready for this yet and may still be a little unprepared. However, it is always good to obtain information and not to leave it too late. Companies are often too wrapped up in their innovation or too concerned about the potential costs that they keep putting it off. It really pays off to start a patent application in plenty of time. Also if you need investors, they will ask you about the status of your patent application.
If you would like to discuss a quote and EP&C's approach, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to discuss your options with you.