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What Is Patent Pending?

As a designation of the inventor's intent to grant exclusive rights to use, selling a patent, or license a product, the phrase patent pending is displayed on the product. Provisional patents are filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The patent-pending notice warns possible copycats that if and when the patent is approved, they could be sued for copying the idea. As a result, any later application to patent a substantially identical idea would have priority over the newly filed patent application.

A patent is usually granted for a process or design that is unique.

Example of Patent Pending

Near-identical inventions can be granted patent pending status repeatedly before a patent is awarded and the invention goes to market, if ever.

A new product idea has been developed by an entrepreneur named Joe. After conducting a patent search, he finds that a nearly identical invention has already received a provisional patent.

The provisional patent has not been renewed a year later, according to Joe's search in the patent database. A provisional patent is filed immediately after he hires a patent attorney.

A prototype of Joe's new product is manufactured after he files for a provisional patent and is marketed with a patent pending sticker. However, Joe discovers that mass-manufacturing this product requires too many regulatory and capital improvements after the product hits the market.

It is abandoned after a year, and Joe's idea is made available again.

Patent Pending Status: How to File

Applicants for provisional patents file documents with the Patent Office with the U.S. Patent Office and establish a priority filing date. A full application must be filed within one year after the expiration date.

While the inventor is deciding whether to patent services for the product or process, he can attach the patent-pending label to it.

Patent Pending Infringement

Inventors have little control over copycats while their ideas are patent-pending. The inventor, however, is entitled to take legal action upon approval of the patent company.

Penalties may also be imposed for violations that occur after a patent is granted. As of that date, a provisional patent application had been filed.


Unintentional and Willful Infringement

Unintentional patent infringement is distinguished from willful infringement under U.S. law. Inventors or entrepreneurs may not realize that someone else holds a patent on a similar product or process when they launch a product or service without realizing it.

Someone or the patent company willfully infringes a patent when they drop a copy of the patented idea on the market.

If the patent is unintentionally violated, the penalties are also about the same as if the violator had licensed the use of the patent. Triple damages can be awarded to the patent holder if a willful infringement is proven

The Global Complication

Patent holders are responsible for identifying and pursuing patent violations.

On a global scale, that becomes nearly impossible. Say an American invented and patented a unique method to make calorie-free apple pie. Once that idea is stolen, it is transformed into a local sensation in Laos, Finland, or Azerbaijan.

Patent Pending Status: How Much Does It Cost?

Provisional patent applications at the US patent services can cost as little as $130, but they don't reflect the true cost of obtaining a patent.8

Provisional patent applications and complete patent applications cost substantially different amounts. For a utility patent application, a patent attorney may charge $10,000 or more, and for a design patent, a patent attorney may charge $2,000 or less.

Documentation requirements differ in complexity. Drawings that demonstrate the invention are required with utility patent applications, preferably created by a skilled draftsman.

To ensure that the idea hasn't already been patented, the patent attorney must search patent databases.

What Does “Patent Pending” Mean?

Pending patent meaning is as soon as your provisional patent application is filed with the USPTO and dated, you should add the term “patent pending” to your product or process.

Using that designation without seeking an extension is possible for up to one year.



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