Hiring a patent agent to help with a patent application is very expensive. Typical costs are $10,000 or more to prepare a single patent application. Additional costs are incurred afterwards to prosecute the application, including dealing with objections and refusals from the Patent Office. By the time it is all said and done, a patent might cost $20,000 or more. Filing in other countries will add to the costs, especially if there are translation costs.
It is difficult for people to understand why it is so expensive. After all, isn’t it just filling out an “application form”?
A Canadian patent application involves much more than simply filling out a form. Yes, there is a ‘form’ bit and it normally is straightforward. You can even access it online by going here. But that’s really just the cover letter when filing the application.
The difficult part is what we have to do before we are ready to fill out the form, namely writing the description, preparing suitable drawings and writing the claims. That all takes very significant amount of time, skill and effort. Various drafts of the application are usually written, reviewed and then rewritten to ensure the application has the best chance of success at the Patent Office.
Clients will sometimes offer to do some or most of the work, thereby hoping to reduce the time that the patent agent needs to draft the application. Unfortunately, that usually does not work and often results in extra time spent rewriting things or starting from scratch. The complexities of writing a patent is something that takes years to learn.
Registered patent agents and their extensive training
There is actually a rigorous process in place before one can become a registered patent agent and is legally able to assist others with their patent application. This includes writing examinations.
In Canada, a patent agent candidate needs a minimum of two years of experience and training (usually under a senior patent agent), before he or she can even write the patent agent exams.
The Canadian patent agent exams are offered once a year, normally in April. There are four papers, each 4 hours in length and written over 4 consecutive days. People who write these exams are often engineers, lawyers or scientists and are well prepared. Even then, the typical pass rate is maybe around 10%.
A report from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office notes that for the 2012 exams only 17 candidates passed out of the 231 candidates writing the exams. That’s about a 7% pass rate! So only those who really know their stuff, will become registered patent agents.
The report also notes that the largest percentage of candidates required 4 years to pass all of the papers, before they can become registered patent agents. Imagine a six year journey, 2 years first to qualify to write, and then 4 more years of writing exams! That should indicate how much knowledge and training is required to properly write patent application.
If you’re interested in more details about this rigorous examination and qualification process, you can have a look at the Patent Agent Qualifying Examination – 2012 Report that’s posted on the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website.
Preparing one’s own patent application
Inventors are allowed to prepare and file their own patent applications without having to appoint a registered patent agent. However, once the inventor’s rights are transferred (e.g. to a company), a patent agent must be appointed as the “authorized correspondent”. Then all communication with the Patent Office for that patent application will be with that agent.
However, ask yourself, if it takes a registered patent agent an average of 5 or 6 years of training and writing patent agent exams to fully qualify, is this really something you want to do yourself? If it is, you may wish to review the Writing a patent application section of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s website. This isn’t a substitute for years of training and learning, but it does provide some very basic guidance for those wanting to do this on their own.
However, if you wish for more information about our services or to book an initial consultation, or just want a copy of our current patent cost brochure, please give us a call at 403-343-3320 and ask for one of my assistants, either Meghan or Michelle.
You can also email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or send us your questions using the contact form on the right.