Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What is a Registered Patent?

Dear Rich: The company I requested to review my "pending patent" said I must first have a "registered patent" before they will review it. What is a "registered patent"? You either have a patent or you don't, so we think the term "registered patent" means that the company wants you to have one. If you're patent-pending, you don't have a patent. You've filed the appropriate paperwork but the USPTO has not approved your application. Some inventors mistakenly believe they have a patent after filing a provisional patent application (PPA). The PPA preserves your place in line at the USPTO and it may serve as a deterrent but it's not a patent. You cannot use a PPA to stop others from copying your invention, and it only has value if you file a regular patent application within one year of filing the PPA. Because less than half of patent pendings "matriculate," into patents, a lot of companies are wary of patent pending status.
(BTW, there's a lot of helpful patent business info at Nolo's new patents and business site.)