How Long Does the Patent Process Take?
After filing a patent application and becoming "patent pending", a patent is examined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to insure the requirements for patentability are met. This process can take a little as six (6) months for simple design patents, to between 12 and 24 months for simple and complex mechanical utility patents, to well longer for complex electronic or pharmaceutical products. It is normal for an application to be challenged by the USPTO at least once requiring the inventor, or his representative, to provide an answer, a legal argument, an amendment or similar prosecution. Although the Patent Office has a goal of issuing patents within 18 months, this is merely a goal that is missed as often as it is met. Once a patent is issued, it becomes public knowledge.
What is Patent Pending?
The words "Patent Pending" are placed on a product by a manufacturer to inform the public (and competition) that an application has been filed covering that product. It is a warning sign, like a "Do Not Trespass" sign to warn potential infringers. It is a felony to deceive the public by stating that a product is "patent pending" when it is not.