A number of patent research companies charge a standard flat fee for performing a patent search. We usually create a custom quote for every project that we do for customers. The reason for this is simple: no two patent searches are identical.
The amount of work involved in performing a patent search is often dependent on the type of technology involved. For example, a certain semiconductor-related patent search may involve a lot more prior art than an esoteric area such as carbon nanotubes. By creating a custom bid, we charge for the work performed on each specific search, rather than some historic norm that may not be applicable to the current project. This can result in a cost savings to a customer, whereas a flat fee is fixed, of course, regardless of the subtle nuances of the individual project. We think it just makes good business sense to pass cost savings back to the customer. Does this approach make sense to you, or do you prefer some sort of fixed price system?