Patent Filing Receipts

What is a Filing Receipt?

When a patent application is filed electronically, an initial electronic filing receipt is issued immediately by the United States Patent and Trademark Office assigning a serial number and acting as proof that an application was filed electronically.  After the Patent Office verifies the application and its filing data, an official filing receipt is sent out that identifies the inventor(s), applicant(s), any claim(s) of priority, and other information relevant to the filing.  This is not a formal examination of the application, but it is a verification of the filing and contains the official information the Patent Office will be using to refer to the application.

What if there is an error on my Filing Receipt?

If there are any errors on the official filing receipt, those errors should be corrected as soon as possible to avoid problems with the application in the future.  In some cases, there is only a limited time within which the correction must be made, like four months for an incorrect claim of priority, and so it is important to review every filing receipt for accuracy.

Does my Patent Application get published?

When they are filed, patent applications are maintained as confidential in the Patent Office until they or a related application is published.  For provisional applications, they are never published but may become public once a non-provisional application related to the provisional application is published.  For non-provisional applications, which include utility applications, design applications, plant applications, patent cooperation treaty (PCT) applications and foreign-filed applications, the application becomes published automatically at 18 months from the non-provisional application priority date except in limited circumstances where a request not to publish is available.  Once an application is published, anyone can access and review all of the records associated with the application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Is the Serial Number my Patent Number?

While both the initial electronic filing receipt and the official filing receipt each includes an application serial number for the filed application, it is wise not to share that application number with anyone unless absolutely necessary because the application serial number by itself gives a lot of information about the application if the application is unpublished, and easy access to the application once it is published.  The application serial number, for those who know what it means, will tell an experienced viewer whether the application is a provisional or non-provisional or other type of application, approximately when it was filed, and whether examination has begun on it or not.  Revealing this type of information often gives away much of the mystery surrounding “Patent Pending” and the advantage of a competitor not knowing when an important patent might issue or not.

How should I mark my Patent Pending?

“Patent Pending” should be used on a product or method from the date of the original electronic filing.  You can place the Patent Pending notice on the product, its marketing materials, the website describing it, or anywhere you get a public notice value from saying “Patent Pending.”  There are no formal rules on how and when you can use Patent Pending other than you actually do need to have filed a patent application for the invention.

Does Patent Pending help me with competitors?

A Patent Pending notice gives a marketing advantage and gives competitors a warning that you are planning to claim exclusive rights in your invention.  Although Patent Pending alone is not enforceable against a competitor in court, many competitors will avoid copying Patent Pending inventions for fear that they will spend money copying, manufacturing, distributing and developing a market for a product and then be immediately faced with an issued patent that causes them to lose that investment and be stuck with unsold products.  The longer the mystery surrounding the Patent Pending status lasts in the interim before the patent issues, the more competitors will be unsure of whether they are safe to attempt to make a copy.  Ideally the patent issues before the mystery ends.

Please contact a qualified professional at Booth Udall Fuller, PLLC with any questions you may have about filing receipts or any of your intellectual property protection or strategy needs.