Patent pending – is a status assigned to a product or invention when a patent application for it has been filed, but process has not been completed yet. Status is granted for every patent application regardless it is examined positive or negative. Obtaining patent pending status does not guarantee law protection in case of copying, stealing ideas with this status.
Patent is a right to exclusive use of an invention which was granted for the applicant by the patent office. Patent is granted for specified time. This right usually applies for specified territory. When an invention is patented, consumers who want to use it must pay a license fee. Illegal infringement of patent is a crime and can be prosecuted by law.
Patent ownership gives the inventor possibility to make profits from his idea, secures him to enforce his laws to the invention and depend the idea on him.
Purpose of Patent Pending status
Main advantages of using the Patent Pending status:
- Using the product and advertising it before formal patent is granted.
- Warning competitors not to copy the product, because it may be patented in the future.
- Using the product and status in marketing.
When a patent application is filed, it is typically one year or more to get a response from a patent office. It is caused mostly by the growing amount of patent applications. Other thing which application process depend on is complexity of the examination. As the process takes much time, inventors are forced to apply for a patent early. Status of Patent Pending is used in patent application to allow applicants continue working on the idea or use it publicly before the formal patent is granted.
Although Patent Pending status does not protect inventor with law from potential infringers, it warns them from using the idea. When potential competitors are notified that the patent application process has started, they may be convinced that it is not worth copying the idea and possible problems are too risky. If the official patent is granted, its owner will be able to sue them for copying his idea. Warning competitors allow the inventor to show the idea publicly with less chance of stealing it by them.
Getting Patent Pending status allows inventor to apply some marketing strategies for the idea. If the invention has a status of Patent Pending, it is likely to sell it better. Many companies put a mark with “Patent Pending” on products even if it was granted with official patent, because these words are valuable for customers. Other reason why using status of Patent Pending is good for marketing purposes is creating an image of company, investor. Future investors can be attracted by inventors with patents applications, because it shows that the applicant-inventor or company, has high potential and technical capabilities. Applying for the patent acts as a signal of quality targeted to investors. Using patent application can be a simple way to improve the inventor image and show his capabilities.
Problems of Patent Pending status
Main disadvantages of Patent Pending status:
- Cost of patenting does not ensure law protection.
- Sharing invention may cause infringements.
Inventors of new ideas usually want to use their inventions to make profit. To make it safe from copying by others, natural step is to apply for a patent. Until the process is finished, applicant can use the Patent Pending status. One thing which is hard to prognose, is whether the invention will be granted with patent or not. In both cases the inventor must put efforts and money which do not need to turn into profits. When invention is shown in public, potential competitors are open to scan the inventor and his money resources. If inventor incurred too much expenses it may be profitable for bigger companies to take a risk and copy the idea. Even if the patent is granted, its owner may not afford costs of enforcing his laws.
Sharing idea in public can put the inventor at risk of infringement. If the product with Patent Pending status is poorly designed or the patent application is narrow and does not describe fully the invention, it can be easily copied. Competitors can develop similar product by changing some parts of original form and still achieve the same functionality. To prevent this kind of copying, inventor needs to prepare the patent application carefully, predict possible modifications or divide invention in parts and apply for the patent for each of them. These actions can help to keep the idea only for the inventor.
A need to notify the public about the patent application may cause some kind of fear to the inventor. If his idea is something valuable for him, it is surely something he does not want to lose. Showing the idea for other people puts interest in the invention and simple mistakes in the application can lead to infringements.
- Graham S. J. H., Sichelman T. (2010)
- Debelak D. (2016)
- Henkel J., Jell F. (2010)
- Graham S. J. H., Sichelman T. (2010)
- Burrell J. (2007), The Complete Guide to Securing Your Own U.S. Patent, Atlantic Publishing Company, United States
- Debelak D. (2016), Plan before you go, Inventor's digest, United States
- Graham S. J. H., Sichelman T. (2010), Patenting by Entrepreneurs: An Empirical Study, Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review, United States
- Henkel J., Jell F. (2010), Patent Pending – Why Faster Isn’t Always Better, Technische Universität München, Germany
Author: Anna Marzec