One of the first questions potential patent lawyers and inventors want to know when they call our company is ‘How much does a patent drawing cost?’
Even though the question is not that straightforward to answer, we’ll try to answer this honestly.
Asking “how much does a patent drawing cost” is a bit like asking “how much does a house cost?”
Is the house in a rural village, or on Nob Hill in San Francisco? Is it a one-room shack, or a 20-room mansion? Was it built last week, or is it a falling-down ruin?
As with houses, the cost of a patent drawing depends on a number of factors.
Is a patent drawing required?
Non-provisional patent applications generally require at least one drawing to show how the claimed invention works – assuming the invention is capable of illustration with a drawing.
As a practical matter, this means that a patent illustration is almost always required as part of a patent application, and this applies to everything from the simplest mousetrap to the most complicated atom smasher.
For example, the following patent drawing is from Ernest Lawrence’s 1929 patent application for the cyclotron. The invention earned him the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1939.
Design patent applications need at least one drawing to show the design elements that are claimed – however complicated or simple.
For example, Apple’s design patent for the iPhone shows little more than a rectangle with rounded edges, as seen below.
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Even if you think a patent drawing might not be required, given the nature of your invention, it’s a very good idea to include one – just in case.
If the patent examiner decides you DO need a drawing, and you don’t have one, you won’t even get a filing date – which means you could lose your patent rights!
The only situations where patent drawings definitely aren’t required are when inventions are for chemical compounds, compositions, or methods. However, a patent drawing may be the best way to describe a chemical structure, and so still may be advisable.
Another reason to include patent drawings is that a detailed drawing can disclose information that you’ve failed to include in your written description of your invention – and thus save your application.
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the top patent law court other than the US Supreme Court) often looks at patent drawings to determine what someone “skilled in the art” would see in a patent application.
As the Federal Circuit has noted,
A design patent is indefinite under § 112 if one skilled in the art, viewing the design as would an ordinary observer, would not understand the scope of the design with reasonable certainty based on the claim and visual disclosure.
“Visual disclosure” of course means patent illustrations.
Clear and detailed patent drawings can also support claims for infringement and thus help inventors monetize their inventions.
Patent drawings represent only a small part of the overall cost of a patent applications, and they almost always make a patent application stronger, so it’s smart to include them. Skimping on patent drawings to save a few dollars is “penny wise, but pound foolish” and can doom the patent application or a later patent enforcement action.
As the saying goes, “a picture can be worth a thousand words.” Some inventive concepts are much easier to convey with patent illustrations rather than text.
When it comes to patent applications, a good patent drawing could make all the difference – and potentially earn millions of dollars for the applicant. See our article “Why Patent Drawings Can Make or Break a Patent Application” for additional information.
What determines the cost of a patent illustration?
Following are some factors that influence the total cost of patent illustrations.
1. Hours and Sheets
Patent drawing services can be priced based on an hourly rate, or by the sheet, or on some combination of both.
Rates for patent illustrations are usually in the range of $30-40 per hour. Of course, how long it takes for each illustration depends on how complex the drawing is.
For pricing by the sheet, the total price depends on how many sheets are needed and (again) on the complexity of the drawings. Prices typically range from $25-35 per sheet at the low end to $60 per sheet at the high end.
2. Reference Materials
Other factors that determine the price of patent drawings include the type of reference materials that you provide to your patent illustrator.
A rough sketch on a cocktail napkin may be enough for a skilled patent illustrator when an invention is very simple, but adequately explaining a more complex invention may require a photograph of a prototype, the actual prototype or model, or an AutoCAD drawing.
Unless an invention is very basic, it can be hard for a patent illustrator to turn a two-dimensional picture into the sort of three-dimensional diagram needed to fully represent many inventions.
Of course, building an actual prototype can be very expensive, and can cost much more than the total cost of a patent application. Fortunately, many AutoCAD programs can create photo-realistic images that can be rotated in three dimensions to provide an illustrator with a 360-degree view of the invention, as well as expanded and “exploded” to show the invention’s inner workings.
Supplying an AutoCAD file will usually also save on patent drawing costs when the work is done by the hour.
If you’re only supplying photos, make sure to take pictures from all sides, and with good lighting and high resolution.
As noted above, more complex inventions lead to more expensive patent drawings.
For example, the following drawing of a plastic fork that incorporates a toothpick is fairly simple.
On the other hand, the following patent drawing for a photolithography device is complex and is just one of the 17 patent drawings in this particular application.
Basically, the more parts an invention has, and the more technical details that need to be included, the more expensive a patent illustration will be.
Complex patent drawings also take more time than simpler ones do, and this can be important if you’re close to a filing deadline or you’re concerned that a competitor may beat you to the patent office.
4. Similar Components
If a patent drawing includes a number of similar components, it may be possible for an illustrator to simply copy those components, which is cheaper and faster than drawing each component from scratch.
Most patent drawing service contracts include a statement that you’ve provided complete information about the invention.
If you have a last-minute brainstorm and decide to change the invention after you submit the information to a patent illustrator, you’ll usually have to pay for revisions on an hourly basis – and that can get expensive.
You may also need to pay for revisions if you get back the initial drawings and realize that the illustrator missed some important feature that wasn’t apparent from the information you provided.
Getting express service usually costs more than normal service. So plan ahead and don’t cut it too close to a filing deadline.
Let’s have a quick recap on factors that determines the cost
Hours & sheets
‘Time to complete the drawings’ and ‘How many sheets are needed’ decides the price here.
On average hourly rate is $30-45 and rate/ sheet is $25-35.
When the invention is complex, it is advisable to provide at least a photograph or prototype of the design to the patent firm.
It helps patent illustrators to take less time to complete drawings.
Complex inventions lead to more expensive patent drawings.
That means the more technical details an invention has, the more expensive a patent drawing will be
Changing the invention after you submit the information, may cost you extra for revisions.
Also, some patent drawing firms charge for revisions even if it is a drawing error.
But we don’t do that.
Getting express service usually costs more than normal service. So plan ahead & save money.
Great quality at competitive prices
At Invention Patent Drawings, we provide top-quality patent drawings at attractive prices.
Our drawings are consistently accepted by patent authorities around the world, and we’ve been trusted with producing over 5,000 patent drawings for hundreds of clients.
To know more about our services and pricing, please send us an email at email@example.com or call us at +1-917-508-8816.