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What Does "Patent Pending" Mean for an Inventor?

proficientintellectualpropertycounsel1-300x225.jpgIn 1790, the cost of a patent was only about five dollars. Prices have increased significantly since then, but that doesn't mean the number of applications filed has dwindled at all. In fact, from 1998 to 2010, the number of annual patent applications in the U.S. reached over 520,000.

A patent application is a bit more complicated now than it was in 1790, though. One of the most critical steps in the process is when an application reaches "patent pending" status. Without proficient intellectual property counsel, this doesn't mean much, but in reality, it could make or break a patent.

What Does "Patent Pending" Mean?
The terms "patent pending" and "patent applied for" are frequently used by a manufacturer to inform the public that their application for a patent is on file and waiting for approval. Patent lawyers are familiar with this terminology and are usually tasked with assisting manufacturers through this process.

When Does "Patent Pending" Status Happen?
A patent is pending approval at the time of filing. If a paper patent is sent, then the process has a slow start. However, most modern manufacturers and inventors submit their patent applications electronically, so the patent becomes pending immediately upon submission.

Can a Patent Be Rejected at This Stage?
The process to apply for and review a patent is a lengthy one, and during this process, the patent can actually be sent back for re-submission, further extending the approval process. False use of "patent pending" is illegal and can result in a serious penalty.

Does "Patent Pending" Status Protect Inventions?
Nothing can protect a patent as well as a skilled patent attorney who can provide proficient intellectual property counsel. However, a patent application's unique serial number alerts the public to the fact that a manufacturer is seeking a patent for an invention. If a patent is granted, then someone who attempts to make, use, or sell the invention that is claimed in the patent application can be sued.

In the last two decades, the number of patent lawsuits has increased from 500 to over 3,000 annually. While a patent has a limited amount of protection under "patent pending" status, an experienced patent attorney can protect an invention from inception to completed patent.

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