A patent is a document which is issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) that gives a monopoly on the use and development of an invention for a limited period of time, which is found by the PTO to qualify for patent protection.
Patent Pending is the status given to a patent application (either regular or provisional) once it has been filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). “Patent applied for” is synonymous. From that point the device can be marked as Patent Pending in order to deter any potential competitors from copying the idea. Since the patent application has been filed and the patent is pending, someone else who copies the idea and creates it after the application has been filed will be infringing on the patent.
It’s important to remember that just because a patent has been applied for and it has the “patent pending” label, that does not give the patent applicant the write to behave like a patent owner. Only when a patent is actually issued, after the patent pending status, can an inventor prevent others from making, using and selling the invention. During the patent pending status anyone can use and/or actually sell the invention. If you are confused and don’t know where to begin you can always look for professional help from patent companies such as InventHelp.
There is however some recourse that an inventor can have against an infringer that sold his invention during the patent pending stage under the new 18-month publication statue. If two requirements are met, the inventor can obtain royalties from an patent infringer from the date the patent application is published. The two rules that must be met are: 1) the application must issue an actual patent on the invention in question, and 2) the infringer had notice of the application. Sending the infringer a certified letter is a good way to accomplish step #2 during the patent pending stage.
The patent pending label makes it a lot easier for the inventor to be able to show their invention to a potential developer. The inventor can go through the details of the invention in order for the developer to potentially fund and/or build the invention and the patent pending allows him to do it without fear that the developer will take the idea as their own.
Before 1995 it was considerably expensive to obtain a patent pending status since you had to prepare and file a full patent application just to get the patent pending. Now under the Provisional Patent Application program the patent pending status costs considerably less, and can be in the low $100’s for small entities. Find more info on patenting process on twitter too – https://twitter.com/inventhelp.