It’s important to note that the term “patent pending,” as often seen on products, offers the inventor no real legal protection. Rather, the label serves merely as a warning to others that the inventor has applied for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The actual protection a patent offers is not effective until the patent is granted. However, the patent protection is retroactive to the earliest filing date.

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So, what good does “patent pending” do for an inventor? Well, if a second individual decides to ignore the patent pending label and produce a derivative product, they may be liable for royalties and other damages, provided the USPTO ultimately awards the patent to the original inventor.

It is also important to note that the USPTO prohibits false use of “patent pending” or “patent applied for.” Any individual or business falsely claiming the label can be fined no more than $500 per offense.

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