“Patent Pending” means that you have filed for a patent but have not yet gone through the entire patent process. To get patent pending status, you must file for a provisional patent application (PPA) on your invention. Having patent pending status does not guarantee you a patent, but it does offer you several advantages.

Why Would I Want to Get a PPA?

The primary reason to get a PPA is to protect your rights to your invention. A PPA can protect your rights by:

  • Giving you “patent pending” status for 12 months.
  • Offering you protection if you wish to show your invention to potential manufacturers. If a potential manufacturer later steals your idea, you can complete the patent process and sue for infringement.
  • Protecting you from infringement by others who might learn of your invention. A PPA is different from a regular patent application in that it does not require you to build and test your invention. The minute you figure out how your invention will work, you can file for a PPA.
  • Allowing the date you file for your PPA to carry over to your non-provisional patent. This can give you an advantage over others who may try to patent the same invention. An earlier filing date can often benefit you in disputes over who has priority.

What Do I Need to Do?

Filing for a PPA is much easier and cheaper than filing for a regular patent. To get a PPA, you must submit:

  • An $80 fee
  • A description of your invention, along with instructions on how to make and use it
  • Any drawings necessary to understand your invention
  • A cover sheet stating that you are filing for a PPA, giving your name, your address, and the title of your invention. Form PTO/SB/16 on the USPTO website can be used as a cover sheet

How Do I Turn My PPA into a Patent?

To go from patent pending status to patent holder status, you should file for a regular patent within 12 months of filing for a provisional patent. You can still file for a regular patent after those 12 months are up, but you lose the ability to claim the earlier filing date of the PPA. If you want to add on to the information in the provisional patent application when you file for your regular patent, you are free to do so. However, any new information you add will not have the benefit of the earlier filing date.

Do I Need a Patent Attorney to get Patent Pending Status?

If you are considering filing for a patent, or are worried about others stealing your invention before you have a chance to patent it, you may want to speak to a patent attorney. An experienced intellectual property attorney will be able to inform you of your rights and guide you through the complicated patent process.