Understanding the various patent statuses in the realm of intellectual property can prove crucial for inventors and businesses alike. It’s important to recognize the significant differences between “pending” and “granted” patents in order to obtain the appropriate protection for your intellectual property rights. 

Overview of the Two Stages of Patent Status

In the world of patents, “pending” and “granted” represent two significant milestones in the patent lifecycle. Understanding these stages can provide inventors with the necessary foresight to manage their intellectual property strategically.

A “pending patent” is the term used to describe a patent application that has been filed with the patent office, but has yet to be granted. This stage begins the moment an inventor submits a comprehensive patent application, including the necessary forms, fees, and a thorough description of the invention. While a patent is pending, the applicant may use the term “patent pending” on their invention. This provides a form of protection, alerting others that a patent may be issued, potentially leading to legal consequences for infringement. However, it’s important to note that the rights of a patent holder are not fully enforceable until a patent has been granted.

On the other hand, a “granted patent” refers to a patent application that has successfully passed the scrutiny of the patent office, leading to the issuance of a patent. This grant affirms that the invention is novel, non-obvious, and useful, meeting all patentability criteria. The owner of a granted patent has the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention without their permission. These rights typically last for 20 years from the filing date, offering a substantial period of market exclusivity. 

How to Obtain Patent Pending Status

Obtaining pending patent status essentially involves filing a patent application with the patent office. There are two basic ways in which this can be done:

  • Provisional Patent Application: This is a popular method for inventors looking to establish an early filing date without going through the exhaustive process of a full patent application. A provisional application allows inventors to use the term “patent pending”, yet it does not automatically convert into a granted patent. To move towards grant, a non-provisional application claiming the benefit of the provisional one must be filed within 12 months.
  • Non-Provisional Patent Application: The filing of this full application also grants “patent pending” status to the invention.  It includes all elements of the patent application: specification, claims, drawings, an oath or declaration, and fees. This application initiates the examination process at the patent office, which can lead to a patent grant.

The Process: From Patent Pending to Patent Granted

The transition from a pending to a granted patent is a process that unfolds over several stages, all of which are presided over by the patent office. The journey begins with the preliminary examination of the patent application. In this stage, the patent office checks for basic requirements, such as form, content, and the appropriate fee. The purpose of this initial review is to ensure that the application meets the fundamental criteria for a patent.

Following the preliminary examination, the application is published, typically 18 months after the filing or priority date. Publication allows the public to view the details of the patent application. This step marks the onset of a “patent pending” status where the inventor can warn potential infringers that a patent may be issued.

The final and arguably most rigorous stage is the substantive examination. Here, patent examiners scrutinize the application to confirm that the invention is novel, non-obvious, and useful. They examine prior art, which includes all information that has been made available to the public in any form before the filing date of the patent application. If the application overcomes all objections and meets the patentability requirements, a Notice of Allowance is issued, and upon payment of the issue fee, the patent is granted. 

Comparison of Patent Pending v. Patent Granted

The transition from a pending patent to a granted patent is accompanied by a significant shift in the rights and protections accorded to the patent holder. While “patent pending” status doesn’t confer enforceable legal rights, it serves as a public notice and can deter potential infringers, as it signals that the inventor is seeking legal protection for their invention. 

Upon the grant of a patent, the patent owner gains exclusive rights over the patented invention. This means that they can legally prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing their invention without consent. If an entity infringes upon these rights, the patent owner can pursue legal action, potentially leading to injunctions against the infringer and monetary damages. One of the primary benefits of a granted patent is, therefore, the ability to protect one’s invention more thoroughly. 

Navigating the Process from Pending to Granted Status

Understanding the different stages, rights, and implications of the patent process from pending to granted is paramount in protecting your invention and capitalizing on your intellectual property. For a smoother, more informed journey, our experienced patent attorneys at Bold Patents can provide you with expert advice, steer your patent application through potential pitfalls, and help ensure that your inventive ideas are fully protected.