Justus Kreuels - 30. April 2018

What are the costs of an international patent?

Our clients often ask us, what the cost for an international patent protection is. Sadly we cannot give a concrete answer to this question. First of all it is to be noted, that there is no international patent. International protection can therefore only be given over a multitude of single national patents – with respective separate costs. As the costs for a patent gaining process can only hardly be calculated, the calculation of a multitude of international patent gaining processes is impossible.

Depending on the kind of invention and depending on how close the invention is to the state-of-art, it is variously complicated to convince the responsible patent examiner of the patentability of the product or invention. Furthermore, every country has a different standard for the patentability of an invention. Lastly it is also often depends on the patent examiner if a patent gaining process is made complicated or is promptly dealt with. Related to the experience we make with the patent gaining process of a country, it is possible for us to give a more specific assessment of the costs which are to be expected.

Patent costs depend on the individual case

Because of this, the costs for an international patent protection can only be made depending on every individual case. In order to give a more specific cost assessment, it is advisable to figure out in which country and actual patent is sought. A product which is easily distributed in various targeted markets like for example medication should receive a patent protection even in a small country in contrast to any part of a complex product which is mostly sold as a unit. We have made experiences like this in the automotive industry. A producer of the automotive industry would usually not offer a particular vehicle configuration in a comparatively small market. Therefore patents are mostly only necessary in larger jurisdictions (Europe, USA, China and Japan). In the field of pharmaceutical and medicinal products however, patent protection is necessary in more countries (India, Russia, Brazil, Korea etc.).

When do the costs for an international patent arise?

For an economical view of the costs for an international patent protection it is furthermore to be considered when the costs effectively arise. The total costs of the patent protection are usually dispersed over the course of several years. In addition to this, the usage of any priority year claims and the possibility of an international patent application can lead to a postponement of the costs. The international patent application is the starting position for patents in many countries. Should the patent prove to not be as valuable as expected, the patenting process can be cancelled before any further cost might arise.

For international patents, the additional costs for the local lawyers have to be taken into account. Depending on the expertise and field from which the product originates, the costs for lawyers vary from country to country.

A concrete example

The following example is supposed to illustrate how the costs for an international with a relatively small spectrum can be calculated. The here indicated costs are simplified average numbers. Depending on the individual case, it is also possible to give more precise information. Nonetheless the following chart is a relatively realistic cost assessment.

  1.Year 2.Year 3.Year 4.Year 5.Year 6.Year 7.Year Complete
Patent application 5k €              
International patent application   6k €            
European patent 5k € 1k € 1k € 1k € 7k €
US patent 5k € 2k € 2k € 2k €
JP patent 5k € 2k € 2k € 2k €
CN patent 4k € 1,5k € 1,5k € 1,5k €
Anular costs 5k € 6k € 19k € 6,5k € 6,5k € 6,5k € 7k € 56.5k €

In particular, the chart offers a calculation scheme which shows how the costs for an international patent which is dispersed on to several different countries can be calculated. Depending on the extent of the patent and the technology area the responsible lawyers can make a more specific cost calculation based on this chart.

We hope to have made the costs of an international patent more transparent.

Regarding Justus Kreuels:

Justus Kreuels, German and European Patent Attorney since 2011/2012, studied mechanical engineering at the TU Munich and the RWTH Aachen. He is co-founding partner of karo IP. A main focus of his practice is the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the field of mobile communication, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, etc. in Germany.

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