You may have seen articles marked with the term “patent pending.” Patent pending is the term used to describe a patent application that has been filed with the patent office, but has not issued as a patent. Patent pending indicates that the inventor is pursuing protection, but the scope of protection, or whether a patent will even issue, is still undetermined. Marking an invention “patent pending” puts the public on notice that the underlying invention may be protected and that copyists should be cautious. Any applicant who has a non-expired provisional application or a pending non-provisional application can indicate that the related subject matter is “patent pending”.
In some cases, pending patent applications publish from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In other cases, pending patent applications are held in confidence until issuance.