Once you submit a patent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), your invention receives a status of patent pending. And, “patent pending” is always how you should describe your invention to others.
Patent pending actually carries a lot of weight for inventors, especially in keeping others from stealing your invention. However, full rights are not granted until the full patent is issued.
How Patent Pending Protects You
Because of USPTO’s backlog of patent applications, your invention could be labeled “patent pending” for several years. But, filing the patent application ensures certain protections.
Patent pending means you have filed a patent application with USPTO and have a patent serial number to let the public know that you are seeking a patent for your invention. So, if someone starts to use your invention without your permission, you can still get the patent issued and then sue for patent infringement.
Patent damages accrue from the date the application is published, 18 months after it’s filed. Triple damages may be available if willful infringement is proven. Inventors can also obtain an injunction against the company, which stops them from selling any more infringing products.
If you notice that someone is infringing on your invention, you can request that the USPTO speed up your patent application. But, sometimes you can benefit from the delays, because it gives you time to allow an infringer to build a market and for you to establish a solid case.
The Benefit of Provisional Patents
Even before you file your patent application, consider ways to protect your invention from infringement. In some cases, it may be best not to disclose your invention until after you have filed your patent. However, that isn’t feasible for everyone.
A provisional patent application, which costs much less than a full patent application, is a smart move before you’re ready for the traditional patent. Provisional patents help inventors work toward the full application.
Provisional applications are not patents and do not provide legal protection. However, it guarantees a filing date with the USPTO and allows you to use the phrase “patent pending” when discussing your idea. Provisional patents are good for a year, giving you time to assess the market and get investors before filing the non-provisional application.
Do you have an idea? We can help you through every step of the complex patenting process. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the inventor’s hotline at 888.864.1760 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.