Value of freshly-issued US patents compared to cost to obtain

A post on William Heinze’s blog, I/P Updates, (Dec. 29, 2005) refers to another blog’s explanation of an article by an economist. The economist, Carlos Serrano, used data about patents traded (about 2.5% of all patents at their start, dropping over time) and renewed to estimate values of US patents.

Serrano “estimates that the median value of a freshly-issued patent in his data set is about $21,000 and the mean value is $58,000 (in 2003 dollars).” (See my post of Jan. 3, 2006 about the value of patents.)

Let’s use that median figure and combine it with some admittedly broad figures from elsewhere. Experienced patent counsel have estimated that an in-house patent lawyer can prepare and prosecute about 30 patents a year, which averages about 50 hours per patent (assuming those lawyers spend some time on other kinds of work, and log about 1,850 hours per year). If those preparation and prosecution lawyers average $150 an hour with a full load of costs (See my post of Oct. 18, 2005 on calculating that figure.), then their cost per patent comes to about $7,500; add some costs for the inventor, other corporate costs, plus application fees in the US, and the cost per patent according to these directional estimates would near $10,000 – as compared to a median value of $21,000.

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