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What does “Patent Pending” or “Pat. Pend.” mean?

 

  • Patent pending means that the person or manufacturer is giving notice that some kind of patent application has been filed for some portion of the object on which the words appear.
  • It is illegal to mark a product or invention as patented if it has not been patented, or as patent pending if no patent application is on file with the Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Patent pending affords you no legal rights. However, most reputable businesses and people will not infringe upon an item which has a patent pending. They know in the long run that it is probably cheaper to either buy the rights from you or to wait to determine what patent rights will be awarded, if any. This de facto coverage can provide a significant competitive advantage for new products.
  • The patent pending period is one of the most marketable times for the rights to an invention. Manufacturers can utilize the period of patent pending to get a jump on their competitors. This is possible because the applications are held in secrecy. (However, in the future, the Patent Office may start publishing patent applications after they have been on file for 18 months). No one else can know what kind of patent you’ve applied for, or how broad the protection you will receive, if any at all.
  • By way of analogy, claiming patent pending is like posting no trespassing signs on a lot you are in the process of buying, but do not own yet. Most people will stay off the lot, but if someone does challenge you, you must wait until you own it before having legal grounds for excluding them. If the sale falls through, of course, you don’t have any right to exclude.