Patent Fundamentals – Patent Pending?

Once a U.S. patent application has been filed with the PTO, and as long as it remains active there, the claimed invention will have “Patent Pending” or “Patent Applied For” status. These terms, affixed to or associated with a publicly shown or traded product or process, puts others on notice that the inventor has claimed, and may acquire, patent protection for the product or process or for some part of it.

Patent Pending status by itself does not provide any legal protection for the claimed invention, and the law provides for sanctions for false or improper use of the Patent Pending label and its equivalents. However, publication of the patent application — automatically after 18 months, or at the inventor’s request — does afford limited enforceable protection from infringement of the invention before the patent issues.