Pat Pend

“Pat Pend” stands for “Patent Pending”. The “Pat. Pend.” mark on a product merely communicates to the public that a corresponding patent application has been filed. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be sued if you copy the product. It means that, in time (likely, a very long time), you MAY be sued if you copy the product.

Product Pat Pend

When can someone mark their product “Pat Pend”?

If you launch a product with a “new feature”, you can upload a document describing the new feature via the GlobalIPCo online filing system and get a worldwide Patent Pending Number within a business day for only $199. This Patent Pending Number filing system is available to most inventors around the world, whether in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, …

A Patent Pending Number allows you to mark your product (including packaging and marketing material) “Pat Pend” in 177 countries (basically, worldwide) for 12 months. During this 12 month period, you may not sue anyone who copies your product, but your Patent Pending Number reserves your right to secure granted patents in all 177 countries. So, should a competitor in the UK copy your product, you may during this 12 month period file a corresponding UK complete patent, prosecute this UK complete patent to grant and thereafter sue the UK competitor in a UK Court for patent infringement. For this reason, competitors are wary of products marked “Pat Pend”, and the Patent Pending Number provides effective deterrence worldwide for 12 months.

Pat Pend Number

How long can a product be marked “Pat Pend”?

Getting a Patent Pending Number permits you to mark your product “Pat Pend” worldwide for 12 months. Should you wish to extend this period for a further 18 months, you’ll need to file an International / PCT Patent Application. Thereafter, should you wish to continue marking your product “Pat Pend” in a specific country, you’ll need to file a corresponding National Phase Patent in that country. You may continue to mark products “Pat Pend” in countries where National Phase Patents have been filed until the National Phase Patent has been granted or has been abandoned. Thereafter, the “Pat Pend” mark should be substituted with “Pat Reg” (i.e. registered patent). Read more about the patent process.

Uber, for instance, managed to keep its patent “Pat Pend” for 9 years! In fact, Uber tried every trick in the book to delay grant of its patents, as marking its app “Pat Pend” was far more valuable (as a deterrence) that marking it “Pat Reg”, since the final registered patent was so easily circumvented.

Uber Pat Pend

Can competitors see what has been patented?

For the first 12 months of marking a product “Pat Pend”, no-one has access to the Patent Pending Number application. This means that, unless you voluntarily tell competitors, they can only guess at what may ultimately be patented. That’s what makes the “Pat Pend” mark such an effective deterrence.

Should an International / PCT Patent be filed, the patent application document will only be publicly available after 18 months (i.e. a further 6 months after the initial 12 month Patent Pending Number period).

Why mark a product “Pat Pend?”

Most people mark products “Pat Pend” to deter competitors, others mark products “Pat Pend” to reinforce the “new and innovative” message in marketing campaigns, and a few people mark products “Pat Pend” with the intention ultimately to secure enforceable patent rights that can be used to sue copycats for patent infringement.

How long before copycats can be sued for copying a “Pat Pend” product?

Since the typical patent process is:

  • get a Patent Pending Number;
  • file an International / PCT Patent in 12 months time;
  • file National Phase Patents in 30 months time; and
  • spend a further 1-4 years to prosecute the National Phase Patents to grant,

copycats will typically only be sued for infringement 3.5-6.5 years after a product is first marked “Pat Pend”.

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