A pending patent application is one that has been filed in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office but has not reached completion of the prosecution process culminating in either allowance or abandonment of the same. The term is typically used by a manufacturer or seller of an article to inform the public that an application for patent on that article is on file in the Patent and Trademark Office. The law imposes a fine on those who use these terms falsely to deceive the public.
The twenty (20) year term of a patent begins to expire as of the filing date of the patent application. Therefore, the inventor or applicant should begin marketing efforts as soon as the application is filed, i.e., the “patent pending” period of time should not be wasted.
The filing date and the application number should be treated as trade secrets, i.e., neither the filing date of the application nor the application number should be published. This prevents a potential copier from making an educated guess as to when the patent may issue. No copier will go through the time and expense of preparing to copy a product when the issue date of the patent is unknown and unpredictable.