“Patent Pending” is a designation used to indicate that a patent application has been submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for an invention. Using the “Patent Pending” designation on your product, and marketing materials associated with the product, may discourage competitors from copying your product.
A new patent application typically remains confidential for 18 months after the filing date. During this period of confidentiality, the “Patent Pending” designation is particularly valuable because competitors cannot determine any details regarding the invention. They know you have submitted a patent application, but don’t know what it covers or whether they can avoid patent infringement.
Additionally, the “Patent Pending” notice can be a valuable marketing tool because it will cause some customers to perceive your product and company as an innovative leader in your marketplace.
Before applying a “Patent Pending” designation to your product, you must have a pending patent application with the USPTO and an assigned serial number. This can be accomplished by filing a provisional patent application (PPA) or a “traditional” non-provisional patent application. You can continue to use the “Patent Pending” designation as long as the application remains pending in the USPTO and has not been abandoned or issued as a patent.
In most situations, the fastest way to achieve “Patent Pending” status is by filing a PPA, which provides a fast and cost-effective tool to establish a filing date in the USPTO and receive a serial number. A PPA has fewer requirements and is much simpler to prepare, saving time and money. Additionally, the USPTO filing fees for a PPA are considerably less than a traditional patent application.
Other important advantages of filing a PPA include establishing a filing date for your invention with the USPTO and giving yourself 12 months to continue developing the invention and testing it in the marketplace.
If you file a PPA to get “Patent Pending” status, remember that a PPA expires after 12 months. If you don’t file a traditional patent application (or file another PPA) at the end of the 12 months, you no longer have “Patent Pending” status and you must remove that designation from your product, marketing materials, etc.
If you want to use the “Patent Pending” designation on your product and, at the same time, establish a filing date for your invention, a provisional patent application is a fast and cost-efficient tool to accomplish both.