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Patent Pending: Everything You Need to Know

August 17, 2023
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The term “patent pending” is a phrase that many inventors and businesses encounter when navigating the complex world of patents. It represents a crucial stage in the patent application process and carries significant legal implications.

Whether you are an inventor looking to protect your innovation or a legal professional seeking insights into this specific aspect of patent law, this guide is designed to offer clarity and depth on the subject.


What Does Patent Pending Mean?

“Patent pending” is a legal designation or status applied to an invention that has a patent application filed but not yet granted. It serves as a warning to others that the inventor has sought protection for the particular invention, and legal actions may be taken against those who infringe upon it.

Application Status

The term is used once the patent application is submitted to the patent office and remains in effect until the patent is either granted or denied. During this period, the invention is under examination, and the patent office is reviewing the application to determine if it meets the necessary criteria for patentability.

Legal Implications

While “patent pending” does not provide the full legal protection of a granted / issued patent, it does offer some deterrent against potential infringement. It signals to competitors and the market that the inventor is serious about protecting the intellectual property and may pursue legal remedies if the invention is copied.


It’s essential to recognize that “patent pending” does not guarantee that a patent will be granted. It merely indicates that the application process is underway. If the patent office finds that the invention does not meet the required standards, the application may be rejected, and the “patent pending” status will cease.


Global Laws and Regulations Related to Patent Pending

Understanding the legal landscape surrounding “patent pending” is essential for inventors, businesses, and legal professionals. This section delves into the pertinent global laws and regulations, with a spotlight on unique legal perspectives specific to India.

International Framework

The concept of “patent pending” is recognized internationally and is governed by various agreements and treaties. Some of the key international frameworks include:

The Paris Convention

This treaty allows inventors to file patent applications in member countries within a specific time frame, maintaining the priority date of the original application.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

The PCT facilitates the filing of patent applications in multiple countries simultaneously, providing a streamlined process for international patent protection.

TRIPS Agreement

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) sets minimum standards for intellectual property laws, including patents, and is enforced by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

National Legislation

Different countries have specific laws and regulations governing the patent application process, including the “patent pending” status. Here’s an overview of some major jurisdictions:

United States

In the U.S., the “patent pending” status is governed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It is illegal to falsely mark a product as “patent pending” if no application has been filed.

European Union

The European Patent Office (EPO) oversees the patent application process in the EU. The “patent pending” status is recognized across member states, and the regulations are harmonized to ensure consistency.


China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) manages patent applications, and the “patent pending” status is part of the legal framework that protects inventors’ rights.

Spotlight on India

India has a unique perspective on “patent pending,” governed by the Indian Patents Act of 1970 and subsequent amendments.

Application Process

In India, the “patent pending” status begins with the filing of a provisional or complete specification with the Indian Patent Office (IPO). The status remains until the patent is granted or refused.

False Representation

Indian law penalizes false representation of “patent pending.” If a product is falsely marked as such, legal actions may be taken against the offender.

Case Studies

This section provides an analytical breakdown of various case studies that illustrate the complexities and nuances of “patent pending.”

Case Study: A Successful Defense

Scenario: An inventor filed a patent application for a novel medical device and marked the product as “patent pending.” A competitor copied the design, leading to legal action.

Outcome: Though the patent was not yet granted, the “patent pending” status allowed the inventor to successfully negotiate a settlement, demonstrating the deterrent effect of this legal designation.

Case Study: False Marking Penalty

Scenario: A company falsely marked its products as “patent pending” without having filed any patent application, aiming to deter competition.

Outcome: The false marking was discovered, and the company faced legal penalties, highlighting the importance of ethical considerations in using the “patent pending” status.

Case Study: Provisional Application Benefits

Scenario: An individual inventor filed a provisional patent application to secure an early filing date while continuing to refine the invention.

Outcome: The provisional application provided the flexibility needed to perfect the invention without losing priority, showcasing the strategic value of provisional filings in the “patent pending” process.


This section curates a list of essential resources to assist inventors, businesses, and legal professionals in understanding and managing the “patent pending” process.

Books and Guides

  • Patent Pending in 24 Hours by Richard Stim & David Pressman: A practical guide to filing your own patent application.
  • Intellectual Property Law by Lionel Bently & Brad Sherman: Comprehensive coverage of intellectual property law, including patents.

Online Resources

  • United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Website: Offers guides, forms, and tools for U.S. patent applications.
  • European Patent Office (EPO) Website: Resources for filing and managing patents in the European Union.
  • Indian Patent Office (IPO) Website: Specific information and forms related to patent filing in India.


Q. What Does “Patent Pending” Mean?

“Patent pending” refers to the status of an invention that has a patent application filed but not yet granted. It serves as a warning to others that legal actions may be taken against infringement.

Q. Can I Sell a Product Marked as “Patent Pending”?

Yes, you can sell a product marked as “patent pending.” However, it does not provide full legal protection against infringement until the patent is granted.

Q. What Happens if Someone Copies My “Patent Pending” Invention?

While “patent pending” does not offer full legal protection, it may serve as a deterrent. If someone copies your invention, you may consult with a legal expert to explore potential legal remedies.

Q. How Long Does the “Patent Pending” Status Last?

The “patent pending” status lasts from the filing date of the patent application until the patent is either granted or denied. The duration may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the complexity of the examination process.

Q. Is It Illegal to Falsely Mark a Product as “Patent Pending”?

Yes, falsely marking a product as “patent pending” without having filed a patent application is considered fraudulent and may result in legal penalties.

Q. Can I File for “Patent Pending” in Multiple Countries?

Yes, through mechanisms like the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), you can file for “patent pending” status in multiple countries simultaneously.

Q. What Are the Costs Associated with “Patent Pending”?

The costs vary depending on the jurisdiction, type of patent application (provisional or non-provisional), legal assistance, and other factors.

In India, the minimum cost to get a patent pending application starts at 5,999, plus government fees of 1,600 for individuals, startups, MSME, educational institutes; and 8,000 for other applicants.

It’s advisable to consult with a patent attorney to understand the specific costs for your situation.

Q. How Does “Patent Pending” Work in India?

In India, the “patent pending” status begins with filing a provisional or complete specification with the Indian Patent Office (IPO). India’s patent law also includes aspects like penalties for false representation.


Understanding the “patent pending” status is crucial for inventors, businesses, and legal professionals. This article has provided a comprehensive guide to the intricacies of “patent pending,” covering its definition, legislation, case studies, resources, and FAQs.

Whether you’re an inventor seeking to protect your innovation or a legal expert advising clients, this guide offers valuable insights to navigate the complexities of “patent pending” and safeguard intellectual property rights in a competitive marketplace.

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