What is the difference between a “patent pending” status and a “patent granted” status?

What Is The Difference?

In the world of intellectual property, patents play a crucial role in protecting inventions and encouraging innovation. When it comes to patents, two terms often come up: “patent pending” and “patent granted.” Understanding the difference between these two statuses is important for inventors, businesses, and anyone interested in the patent process. Let’s delve deeper into the world of patents to understand their significance and the distinction between these terms.

Understanding Patents

Before we explore the difference between “patent pending” and “patent granted,” let’s first establish a clear definition of what a patent is. Simply put, a patent is a legal document that grants an inventor or assignee the exclusive rights to their invention for a specific period of time. It provides protection against others using, making, or selling the patented invention without the patent holder’s permission.

Definition of a Patent

A patent is a form of intellectual property that protects the rights of inventors. It is granted by a government authority, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and typically covers new and useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter. Patents are legally enforceable and provide inventors with a competitive advantage by preventing others from exploiting their inventions.

When an inventor obtains a patent, they are granted the exclusive right to use, make, or sell their invention for a limited period of time, usually 20 years from the filing date. This exclusivity allows inventors to recoup their investment in research and development, as well as profit from their invention.

Patents are essential for protecting innovation and encouraging inventors to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Without patents, inventors would have little incentive to invest time, money, and effort into developing new technologies and solutions. By providing legal protection, patents foster a climate of creativity and promote progress in various fields.

Importance of Patents in Innovation

Patents play a vital role in fostering innovation and encouraging technological advancement. By granting inventors exclusive rights to their inventions, patents provide an incentive for inventors to disclose their discoveries to the public. This disclosure facilitates the sharing of knowledge and allows others to build upon existing inventions, leading to further breakthroughs.

Moreover, patents serve as a valuable source of information for researchers, entrepreneurs, and businesses. The detailed descriptions and technical specifications included in patent documents enable others to learn from previous inventions, avoid duplication of efforts, and develop new and improved technologies.

Furthermore, patents provide inventors with a means to attract investment, establish licensing agreements, and commercialize their inventions. They create a framework for fostering collaboration and driving economic growth. Inventors can license their patented technologies to other companies, allowing them to generate revenue while focusing on further research and development. This licensing model encourages the transfer of technology and promotes the diffusion of innovation across industries.

In addition, patents can be used as a strategic tool by companies to gain a competitive edge in the market. By securing patents for their inventions, companies can prevent competitors from entering the market with similar products or technologies, thus maintaining their market dominance.

Overall, patents are crucial for protecting intellectual property rights, encouraging innovation, and driving economic growth. They provide inventors with the necessary incentives and rewards for their contributions to society, while also facilitating the exchange of knowledge and collaboration among inventors, researchers, and businesses.

The Patent Application Process

Now that we have a solid foundation of understanding patents, let’s explore the patent application process. It is essential for inventors to familiarize themselves with the steps involved in securing a patent, starting from preparing a patent application to the eventual grant or rejection of the application.

Securing a patent for an invention can be a complex and intricate process. It requires careful attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the legal requirements. To navigate this process successfully, inventors often seek the assistance of a patent attorney or patent agent who specializes in intellectual property law.

Preparing a Patent Application

Submitting a comprehensive and well-drafted patent application is crucial for a successful patent journey. A patent attorney or patent agent can assist inventors in crafting a strong application that meets all the legal requirements. The application should include a detailed description of the invention, clear and concise claims, and any necessary accompanying drawings or diagrams.

The patent application should disclose the invention in a manner that allows others skilled in the field to replicate it. It is important to capture the essence of the invention and articulate its novelty and utility. Diligent preparation of the application lays the groundwork for a strong patent pending status.

During the preparation stage, inventors must conduct a thorough search to determine if their invention is truly novel. This involves reviewing existing patents, scientific literature, and other relevant sources to ensure that the invention has not been previously disclosed or claimed by someone else. This step is crucial as it helps inventors assess the patentability of their invention and make any necessary modifications to their application.

Submitting a Patent Application

Once the patent application is finalized, inventors need to submit it to the appropriate patent office, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the case of the United States. The application undergoes a review process, during which patent examiners analyze the invention’s novelty and determine if it meets the criteria for patentability.

The examination process can take several years, depending on the complexity of the invention and the backlog of applications at the patent office. During this time, the patent application is assigned to a patent examiner who thoroughly examines the claims, reviews the supporting documentation, and conducts a comprehensive search to identify any prior art that may affect the patentability of the invention.

Upon submission, the invention is said to have a “patent pending” status. This status provides some level of protection to the inventor while the examination process takes place. However, it is important to understand that the patent pending status does not guarantee eventual patent grant. It simply indicates that the application is being reviewed and considered for patentability.

Throughout the examination process, inventors may receive office actions from the patent examiner, which may include rejections, objections, or requests for additional information. These office actions provide an opportunity for inventors to address any concerns raised by the examiner and make amendments to their application if necessary.

It is crucial for inventors to work closely with their patent attorney or agent during this stage, as their expertise can help navigate the complex examination process and ensure that all requirements are met. By responding effectively to office actions and making necessary amendments, inventors can increase their chances of securing a patent.

Once the examination process is complete and the patent examiner is satisfied that the invention meets all the legal requirements, the patent application may be granted, and the inventor will receive a patent for their invention. However, if the examiner determines that the invention does not meet the criteria for patentability, the application may be rejected.

In the case of rejection, inventors have the option to appeal the decision and present arguments and evidence to support the patentability of their invention. This can be a lengthy and complex process, requiring legal expertise and a thorough understanding of patent law.

It is important to note that the patent application process may vary from country to country, as each jurisdiction has its own set of rules and requirements. Therefore, it is crucial for inventors to consult with a qualified patent professional who can guide them through the specific requirements of their desired jurisdiction.

What Does “Patent Pending” Mean?

When an invention has a “patent pending” status, it means that a patent application has been filed with the appropriate patent office, but the application is still under review and has not been granted a patent yet.

Implications of Patent Pending Status

Having a patent pending status provides inventors with certain advantages. It signals to potential competitors that the invention is being considered for patent protection, encouraging them to think twice before copying or infringing upon the invention’s claims. Additionally, it serves as a deterrent for others who may be interested in developing similar products or technologies.

In some cases, the patent pending status can also help attract investors or secure financing. It demonstrates that the inventor has taken the necessary steps to protect their invention and provides a level of confidence to potential partners.

Duration and Limitations of Patent Pending Status

The duration of the patent pending status varies depending on the jurisdiction and the patent office’s workload. In some cases, it can take several years for an application to be examined and either granted or rejected.

It is important to note that the patent pending status does not provide the same level of protection as a granted patent. During this period, the invention is not yet fully safeguarded, and the inventor cannot take legal action against infringers. Nevertheless, it serves as a vital step in the patent application process, leading to the potential for patent grant.

Transitioning from “Patent Pending” to “Patent Granted”

After the patent application is submitted and assigned a patent pending status, it enters a crucial phase—the examination process. This phase determines whether the invention meets the legal requirements for a patent grant.

Examination of Patent Application

During the examination process, patent examiners review the application and conduct a detailed analysis of the invention’s novelty, non-obviousness, enablement, and utility. They compare the invention to prior art, which includes previously patented inventions, scientific publications, and publicly available documents.

The examination process may involve back-and-forth communication between the examiner and the inventor’s attorney or agent, known as the patent prosecution. The examiner may raise objections or request amendments to the claims of the invention to ensure compliance with the legal requirements.

Possible Outcomes of the Examination

Following the examination, the patent application may have several outcomes. The examiner can grant the patent, reject the application, or request additional clarifications or amendments. If the examiner rejects the application, the inventor can appeal the decision or amend the claims to overcome the objections and continue the prosecution process.

If the examiner is satisfied with the application and determines that the invention meets all the legal criteria, the patent is granted, marking the transition from a patent pending status to a patent granted status.

What Does “Patent Granted” Mean?

When an invention receives a “patent granted” status, it means that the patent application has successfully navigated the examination process and meets all the legal requirements for a patent.

Rights and Privileges of a Patent Holder

Having a patent granted status grants the patent holder exclusive rights to the invention for a specified period, typically 20 years from the filing date. These rights include the ability to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention without permission.

The patent holder can enforce their rights by initiating legal proceedings against infringers and seeking damages or injunctions. Furthermore, a patent granted status provides opportunities for licensing the invention, partnering with manufacturers, or commercializing the technology.

Duration and Renewal of a Granted Patent

A granted patent has a finite lifespan, usually 20 years from the filing date. To maintain the patent’s validity, the patent holder must pay maintenance fees periodically to the relevant patent office. Failure to pay these fees can result in the patent expiring before the end of the 20-year duration.

Once the patent expires, the invention enters the public domain, allowing others to freely use and build upon it. This opens new avenues for further innovation and development.


Understanding the distinction between a “patent pending” status and a “patent granted” status is essential for inventors and businesses involved in the patent process. While the patent pending status provides some protection during the examination process, it does not offer the same level of rights as a granted patent. A granted patent, on the other hand, confers exclusive rights to the inventor and serves as a valuable asset, enabling them to commercialize their invention and prevent others from exploiting it.

In the dynamic world of intellectual property, patents provide a framework for rewarding inventors, encouraging innovation, and driving economic growth. By navigating the patent application process and understanding the implications of patent pending and patent granted statuses, inventors can protect their inventions and unleash their potential for the benefit of society as a whole.