Patent Pending and the Patent Process
You’ve probably seen the phrase “patent pending” on many different devices or inventions over the years and perhaps wondered what it means.
Simply put, this phrase means that a patent has been applied for on an invention, device or process and the inventor is waiting to learn if their patent is granted. Because there are so many patents applied for annually and all these patents must be investigated for authenticity as well as to determine if the design idea already exists under someone else’s patent, the term “patent pending” is used to inform others that a patent has been applied for in the case of a particular product or design.
Creators use the term “patent pending” to let potential imitators know that a patent has indeed been applied for and that if the patent does get issued, the imitators will be in violation of patent laws and will be required to pay licensing fees, penalties, etc. for the use of the patented design. The term “patent pending” thus serves as a warning to copiers and also stakes a legal claim for the originator of the design idea.
This Rolex watch has patent pending status.
Most inventors start the patent process by filing a Provisional Patent Application for their invention. A Provisional Patent Application gives inventors one year to do additional market research or product development, all the while using the term patent pending on their product. This gives inventors a certain level of protection while they test the commercial viability of the product before they spend time and money filing a Non-Provisional Patent Application.
The Non-Provisional Application is more expensive and time-consuming to file and can take anywhere from 2-5 years to process. During this waiting period, the inventor can continue to use the term “patent pending” on their invention. Once the USPTO issues a decision, the term “patent pending” can no longer be used.
The term “patent pending” cannot be used legally if a patent has not been applied for. Using it as such can result in a fine if the statement is not true. When a patent is granted for the invention labeled “patent pending,” that phrase is removed and it is assigned a U.S. patent number.
May 24, 2011
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Disclaimer: No information on this blog is intended as legal advice or to substitute for legal advice and is offered for informational purposes only.
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