4 best practices for patent portfolio budget planning

Kinga Fodor
April 30, 2024
Reading time:
10 minutes

Preparing a budget for a patent portfolio is a constant reality for numerous businesses owning intellectual property.

Whether you are an inventor, attorney, IP manager or finance professional, understanding how to effectively budget for patent renewals is a strategic necessity. In this guide, we shed light on effective budgeting, balancing cost-efficiency with protecting your intellectual assets. 

1. The importance of cost forecasting

It is impossible to make an accurate budget plan for the next year without being able to sufficiently forecast the overall patent renewal costs of a business’ IP portfolio. Every budget decision should be based on a detailed analysis that focuses on upcoming patent renewal fees. 

Yearly and monthly forecasting

For this analysis, there are tools that can forecast your upcoming fees years ahead and show you how much you expect to spend on each patent’s renewal. For better understanding, you should also forecast your patent portfolio costs on a monthly basis, so you can plan your budget with exact predictions of when each invoice will need to be paid throughout the year. 

Utilizing IP management platforms like PatentRenewal.com, patent holders can enjoy built-in forecasting features, which lets them seamlessly estimate their monthly and yearly costs for years ahead. All you need to do is set your desired time frame, and the tool will forecast every aspect of your renewal fees within your chosen period of time. This precision in forecasting is not just about avoiding unexpected expenses; it's about strategic planning and allocation of resources

Invoice options 

You should also consider the payment options of your future IP provider, as you can save not only time but also costs if they have flexible payment plans or opportunities to pay everything at once. This type of payment has a big influence on your cash flow, so you should decide if, for example, yearly or monthly payments are better for your company’s finances. 

At PatentRenewal.com we offer a Bulk and Upcoming payment plan, so your company can decide to settle the yearly costs of all the renewals at once, or split them up and pay them as due dates approach, for a more agile workflow.

It’s also crucial to understand not only the future but past IP expenses as well, so you can plan your future budget based on historical data. Our patent platform provides a detailed overview of all intellectual property renewal payments from the past, showing all cost categories associated with the renewal. This feature gives the opportunity to analyze past spending and highlight pain points that can be avoided in the future. 

Forecasted patent payments on the PatentRenewal.com platform
                                Patent renewal cost forecast feature on the platform with a detailed fee overview

2. Avoiding Unnecessary Spending

The path to efficient patent renewal management is often disturbed by hidden costs and unnecessary spending. This part of the guide focuses on clarifying fees that often go unnoticed and increased service charges that can accumulate over time, and on how to avoid these unexpected costs and make more informed decisions.

Understanding the cost categories

First and foremost, understanding what the most common patent-related cost categories on your invoice mean is one of the most important steps of the budgeting process. Here, we provide a short list and explanation of these costs:

  • Official Fees: These are mandatory fees paid to patent offices for maintaining the legal status of a patent. They vary significantly by country and patent type and can escalate as a patent ages. This is public information in every country that you can check online. 
  • Service Fees: These cover all the fees that an IP provider/IP law firm gets for managing and processing patent renewals. The fees can vary based on the complexity and number of patents. 
  • Local Attorney/Agent Fees: Some jurisdictions require a third party to complete the patent renewal process, as IP owners are not allowed to pay the patent office directly. This additional step involves a middleman and their cost of taking care of your renewal will be added to your invoice.
  • Attorney Fees: For those who work with IP law firms and seek legal advice during the patent renewal process, patent attorney fees become an important factor. These fees cover consultations, legal analysis, and any actions taken on behalf of the patent holder.
  • Currency Exchange and Handling Fees:  Patent renewal transactions made in different currencies to the local patent offices involve currency exchange fees. This can impact costs, especially if there are fluctuations in exchange rates. Handling fees may also be applied for processing payments in different currencies.
  • Late (Surcharge) Fees: In cases where patent renewals are not processed on time, patent offices may impose late fees, which can significantly increase overall costs.

One of the fees that you can remove from your invoice is the local attorney/agent fee in some jurisdictions. It is not applicable to every country, but there are jurisdictions where these agents are not needed anymore to carry out your patent renewals, even though some IP law firms/providers still use them. Ask your provider or check your invoice if they have added this fee in a jurisdiction where you have a patent renewal. See the table below for reference.

Countries where renewing patents does not require a local agent

How to spot overpriced fees within cost categories

Some IP law firms or IP management providers may present their service fees as low while quietly increasing charges in other areas without proper disclosure. Therefore, you should always check the details of each patent renewal cost category and ensure, for instance, that the invoiced official fees align with those officially mandated by jurisdictions. 

Moreover, don’t forget to double check if your invoices include any additional fee for support or  currency exchange, data migration, or taxation that may be part of the initial service proposition. These additional fees are often concealed within specific categories of intellectual property renewal costs.

Some of the IP law firms or providers don’t provide a full cost breakdown in their invoices and only send the total cost for the IP renewals without a breakdown. Openly communicating about costs and emphasizing the importance of clear invoicing reflects professionalism and high quality of service, so we always suggest asking for a detailed cost breakdown if it is not provided upfront. 

Failing to be transparent about the expenses associated with a patent renewal service can damage trust between providers and their customers. 

At PatentRenewal.com, transparency is our top priority. Our patent platform provides comprehensive insights into each invoice and every patent-related cost category. Check out our article for more invoice related tips: "The top 10 mistakes in renewal invoices you should check". 

The patent renewal payment forecast feature on the platform.
                            A monthly detailed cost breakdown for your patent portfolio on PatentRenewal.com

3. Enhancing efficiency and accuracy with automation

In the modern landscape of IP management, automation stands as a foundation of efficiency and accuracy. These automations are part of every innovative IP management software that can make the patent renewal process seamless. 

For instance, by setting renewal instructions in advance and allowing for automatic patent renewals, organizations can significantly reduce: 

  •  the administrative burden
  • potential for human error
  • time spent on monitoring

This can result in savings in costs of initial working hours and working hours spent on fixing mistakes, letting the company redistribute these saved hours and costs to other functions in the business.

Dealing with patent renewal steps manually can be time-consuming and demanding in this fast-paced world. There are still providers who require customers to pay renewal fees individually. Oftentimes they don’t even have a platform, where their customers can monitor or make decisions about their patent renewals. Therefore, they can only get updates by sending emails or calling their IP provider which often leads to missed deadlines. 

But having these steps automated leads to more effective budget planning, time and cost-saving in general. If you can access all the required information in a single click, you can always make an informed decision and make the most out of your patent renewals.

By switching to PatentRenewal.com these manual steps turn into a seamless IP management software. The personalized platform for IP management allows you to handle your patent renewals without long email conversations or hours of manual administration. Moreover, it ensures real-time tracking of the renewal status for each patent. Every step, from sending the invoice to the patent owner, confirming payment receipt, to the confirmation of the patent's renewal, is documented and updated transparently on the platform, without the burden of having to spend hours on checking in different systems or emailing your patent attorney for individual updates.

4. Data-driven budget decisions

When your budget planning includes cost cuts, it’s essential to make decisions guided by data (e.g. your patent portfolio’s performance), market trends, and strategic analysis. 

If you are an IP owner with multiple patent renewals in your portfolio, you need to consider which patents to license or even abandon in some cases. It is always important to monitor what your competitors are planning, but it is much more valuable to stay on top of the technology trends and plan your next step accordingly. 

Based on the latest and predicted trends, you can calculate the potential of your patents, and decide if you would like to invest in them or put them “on hold” or even have them lapse based on the benefits. 

Using our IP management software makes this process seamless, as on your platform you are able to set the renewal status of your current patents with a single click. You don’t need to let us know if you are planning to adjust your patent statuses in advance, as you can do it by yourself whenever you make your decision. If you don’t wish to update the status of your patents, we have a default patent instruction feature that takes care of your patent renewals. After everything is finalized, you can follow your patents’ renewal statuses in real-time, as our software is documenting every step of your patent renewal process. 

A seamless budgeting process

By embracing structured budgeting, implementing the latest tools and technologies, and aligning patent maintenance strategies with broader business objectives, patent holders can navigate this landscape with confidence. Effective patent renewal budgeting is not just about cutting costs where it’s possible; it's about making smart investments in the protection and management of your most valuable assets, ensuring that your innovations continue to thrive in a competitive market.

Ready to revolutionize your IP renewal strategy? Discover how PatentRenewal.com can streamline your process, reduce renewal costs by up to 50%, and safeguard your innovations. 

Book a demo or request a price comparison today! Take the first step towards a more efficient and cost-effective patent maintenance journey.