Costs for Invention Development, Patents and Licensing

Invention services are not like Big Macs

It is ridiculously hard for inventors to find cost information on the various steps they will likely take in developing, protecting and commercializing an invention idea if they go forward on their own.

Prices and timeline vary because inventions differ in complexity. But it is possible to give an example. Following is a rough estimate for the costs and time of taking a simple new invention concept from idea stage, through drawings, patents, prototypes, pilot production, licensing and manufacturing using third party providers.

Invention services are not like Big Macs. The quality of patent writing, prototyping, negotiating and other services can vary tremendously from one provider to another. Higher prices can sometimes mean higher quality but often they do not. Here is a post on some things to consider when choosing an invention company and service provider.

  • Note: The costs shown here are for inventors following a Do-It-Yourself path where they keep control and 100% ownership of their invention concept. If you submit your invention to Invention City and we license it from you, then you do not pay for expenses such as these.

We've broken the process down into three stages:

STAGE 1: Concept Presentation - Create drawings that help to explain it. Research prior art. File a provisional patent. Create a simple animation video and web page/sales sheet to share with prospective partners, investors and licensees. This stage corresponds with the services typically provided by many invention companies. Estimated Cost: $2,000-$10,000+ Time: 1-3 months+

STAGE 2: Working Prototype - Refine the concept with industrial design. Build a working prototype that can be tested by users. Create demonstration video and updated web page/sales sheet to share with prospective partners and licensees. Estimated Cost: $5,000-$20,000+ Time: 3 months - 1 year+

STAGE 3: Pilot Production - Refine and engineer the product for manufacturing. File a non-provisional utility patent in USA. File with PCT. Find manufacturing sources. Build tooling. Make pilot production run. Perform life testing. Create stand-alone website. Produce commercial-grade video. Estimated Cost: $25,000-$100,000+ 6 months - 1 year+

ADDITIONAL EXPENSES - Additional expenses for international patents, trademarks, confidentiality and licensing agreements, marketing expenses for trade shows and travel. Estimated Cost: $25,000+

It is possible to present invention ideas to prospective partners, investors and licensees at any stage. Developing an invention further makes its potential easier to understand and in that manner reduces risk. However, each subsequent step is ever more expensive. That's why we strongly recommend surveys and professional feedback throughout the development process.

For simple products it typically takes about two years to go from idea to store shelf. If everything goes smoothly and there are buyers who want the product, the process can take as little as one year, but it often takes more than two years and five years+ is not unheard of. Keep in mind that getting onto the shelf or listed by Amazon is no guarantee of success.



  • Note #1: Three stages are detailed below. Most invention companies provide a service that corresponds to only the 1st Stage.
  • Note #2: It's smart to mix and match steps and stages, do what you can on your own and only pay for what makes sense for your particular situation.
  • Note #3: Check points are provided in each stage as places to stop and consider whether or not the invention is developing as intended and if the premises for the invention remain valid.
  • Note #4: A Brutally Honest Review costs $95. If Invention City licenses your invention, you only pay a one time $95 fee and we'll be risking our money rather than yours. The opposite is also true. If we say "no" and you want to proceed, you'll be risking your own money and the expenses will be something like those shown below.

Example Costs to Develop, Patent and (hopefully) License a Simple Mechanical Consumer Invention Idea:

Good for Some Licensing Presentations
$0Intro Consultation
$95Brutally Honest Review - CHECK POINT
$500Prior Art Research
$500Refine Invention Concept
$2,500Patent Disclosure & Drawings
$500Provisional Patent Review & Filing
$1,000Simple Animation Video & Sales Sheet
$1001 year web listing
Good for Licensing and Investor Presentations
$500User Survey - CHECK POINT
$500Refine Concept
$2,500Industrial Design Concepts
$500User Survey
$95Inventication & Analysis - CHECK POINT
$7,500Working or Virtual Prototype
$500Sales Sheet
$1,000Private Video of Working Prototype
Good for Licensing, Investor, Distributor, Retailer, Customer Presentations and Market Testing
$500User Survey
$95Inventication and Analysis - CHECKPOINT
$2,500Refine Industrial Design Concepts
$3,500Engineering for Manufacturing
$5,000Non-Provisional Patent Writing & Filing
$20,000Pilot Production
$15,000Life Testing
$3,000Refined Public Video
$73,380TOTAL STAGES 1-3
$5,000US patent responses until issuance
$20,000International Patent Filings 5-8 countries in Europe and Asia
$1,000Finding potential licensees - direct contacts
$2,000Making initial contact / Negotating NDA (@$500 per presentation)
$2,000Formal Presentation via email/phone (@$500 per presentation)
$2,000Trade Show Presentation
$5,000Negotiating Licensing Agreement
$3,000Additional Legal Expenses for Agreements and Trademark
$5,000Travel & Miscellaneous

Invention City offers a unique program with our Brutally Honest Review. Inventors pay us a fee of $95 to get an assessment of their invention from an investor's perspective and a small chance of a licensing deal (where they won't pay anything more). We sincerely believe that our Brutally Honest Review is the best value available anywhere in the world of inventing, even if the review is negative. We explain our "no" so the inventor can make informed decisions on how to change things and what to do next. Our "no" doesn't mean an invention won't succeed. It simply means that it's too risky for us or the payoff is too low for our criteria.

Learn about all of our inventor programs here.

Questions? Send us an email at

- Mike

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