What Does Patent Pending Mean? Part 2 of 3
From Patent attorney Mark Trenner
Watch 8 minute Video of Interview With Denver Patent Attorney Mark Trenner
Facts are that a company usually will not want to spend money for research and development of a product if there is a chance it will not be given the patent, due to the fact that someone has beaten them to the punch.
On the other hand, it does not “legally” protect anything. Your idea is not protected until the patent is actually granted; even though you let others know the wheels are in motion. Someone else can legally market, sell, or use your invention before the patent is granted.
Once your patent is issued, you would stop using the words “patent pending”, and start using the phrase “covered by US Patent Number *****”. At this point you are legally protected from others copying your idea.
It’s also important to note that just because you created a product, you do not have the right to use “patent pending” if this is not the case. You are obligated to have applied for the patent with the USPTO before claiming a patent is in process. In fact, using the term “patent pending” in a false or misleading way is a federal crime which may be punishable by major fines and even jail time. Many inventors with small budgets and potential to gain investment capital may be tempted to use this designation before going through the costly and time consuming process. It is important they know the consequences before doing so, as it can lead to major charges against the in a legal sense.
What Does Patent Pending Mean? Part 3 of 3
Patent Attorney: Colorado’s Mark Trenner Answers Questions…
Patent Attorney: Colorado's Market Trenner
When can I tell others about my invention?
Inventors often want to know when they can tell others about their invention. Patent attorney Mark Trenner always recommends his clients do not disclose anything about their invention to anyone before applying for a patent. And applying for a patent means actually filing at least a provisional patent application or full utility patent application with the US Patent Office.
Note that provisional patent applications cannot be used to protect a design. You must file a design patent application.
In addition, disclosing, using your invention in public, publishing anything about your invention, and even selling or offering to sell your invention may cause you to lose rights to your invention.
While there are some exceptions for those inventors who inadvertently disclosed their invention before realizing that they should have filed a patent application first, important legal rights can be lost. If a panicked client comes into Trenner Law Firm worried that they have lost rights to their invention by making a public disclosure, we may still be able to file a patent application if it has been less than one year since the public disclosure, depending on the circumstances.
But it is not a good idea to rely on a grace period, especially under the new patent law effective March 17, 2013.
In addition, many foreign patent laws require that a patent application be filed before any public disclosure. So if you are considering filing for patent protection outside of the US, you often must file a patent application before disclosing your invention.
Moreover, the US patent law changes in 2013 from a “first to invent” to a “first to file” patent system. This makes it even more critical that you do not disclose your invention and that you file a patent application as soon as possible – or you can risk losing important legal rights in your invention.