The patent is one of the most powerful and effective tools for protecting your business’s intellectual property. When properly prosecuted, a patent can protect your company’s original ideas and unique manufacturing processes so that other businesses cannot use those same concepts without paying your company to license the idea.
Patents protect your company’s investment in new technology by limiting who can utilize the technology or processes your company pioneers. Patents also make it possible for businesses to enforce their intellectual property rights and take a company or individual to court for damages or to force them to stop infringing on a patent.
Given how important patent protections are, why do many companies release products with packaging acknowledging that the patent for the idea is still pending?
Patent prosecution is a lengthy process
The time it takes to successfully prosecute a patent could see the trend that makes a product profitable come to an end. Consumer demand changes so quickly that if companies were to wait from the initial design stage through the final patent approval to release their products, they might miss their window of opportunity.
As of October 2022, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reports 19 months as the average wait time to when a company can expect to receive official communications from the USPTO. However, it takes even longer for the final resolution of the patent prosecution process. The average time it takes to go from the submission of patent documents to the final resolution of the filing is currently 24.9 months or just over two years.
Having a patent pending can be sufficient protection
You can release a product to the public or start allowing pre-sales of it without an official patent yet. Having patent pending labeling on your marketing materials and packaging will help protect your idea from poaching by competitors while also helping you develop a consumer base and awareness of your brand.
Especially if you believe that competitors are working on similar products or that demands for this particular concept will shift in the next year or two, releasing a product with the patent still pending can be more beneficial than waiting to officially resolve the prosecution process. Learning more about the protections that patents offer can help businesses seeking to maximize their profits while minimizing their operational risks.