Question from C. George:
Who gets the right to put “patent pending” on a product? Do they have to file a patent application first or what?
-C. George

The term “patent pending” may be used by a manufacturer to indicate that a patent for the product has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This statement has no legal implication as the protection provided by a patent does not actually begin until the patent is granted. Basically, “patent pending” serves as a warning that duplicating the product could result in being liable for damages and possible legal action if and when a patent is issued.

Falsely using the term “patent pending” can result in a fine for deceiving the public. A fine of up to $500 can be sought for each usage of “patent pending” when no application has been filed.

As early as 1791, trademark protection was being requested. A group of Boston sailcloth makers petitioned congress for the ability to register their marks. The problem was given to the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson. He decided:

That it would, in my opinion, contribute to fidelity in the execution of manufacturing, to secure every manufactory, an exclusive right to some mark on its ware, proper to itself.

That it will, therefore, be reasonable for the general government to provide in this behalf by law for those cases of manufacture generally, and those only which relate to commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with Indian tribes.

Thomas Jefferson
December 9, 1791

Continue reading “Beginning of US Trademark Laws”

Plant Patent 5278In 1930, the Plant Patent Act spurred by the work of Luther Burbank provided for the possibility of patent protection for asexually reproduced plants. In 1949, Plant Patent #1 was issued to Henry Bosenberg of New Brunswick, NJ, for a climbing rose. The United States Patent and Trademark Office grants a plant patent for any new or distinct variety of plant that is asexually reproduced except for a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state. Asexual reproduction means that the plant must be able to reproduce by a method other than seeds such as budding, grafting or the rooting of the cuttings. The child plant therefore has the exact characteristics of the parent plant. Continue reading “What Is A Plant Patent?”

Pinkham Vegetable CompoundPatent Medicine is a term used to refer to concoctions popular in the 18th and 19th century which were advertised to cure almost every disease. Patent Medicine is actually an incorrect name though. Most of these products were trademarked but never patented. The process of patenting a product requires full disclosure of a medicine’s ingredients. Most manufacturers did not want to reveal the toxic or questionable ingredients of their so-called cures.

Patent Medicines were mostly very similar in their preparation containing various vegetable extracts, generous amounts of alcohol and often narcotic such as morphine, opium, or cocaine. These drug compounds could be deadly and were often more hazardous then helpful. At the time, there were no regulations in regards to the ingredients of these medicines. Claims made by manufactures of Patent Medicines included the ability to cure everything from caner to tuberculosis to paralysis. Continue reading “What Is Patent Medicine?”

Question from Allan B.:
I was doing a research project and I’m wondering where is a good place to research actual patents for medical inventions?
Is that information free or do you have to pay for a service to see the documents? Also, do you know how far back they keep the patents for viewing?

Information about patents is available for free from the US Patent and Trademark Office – or you can search for patent information at google patents –

The Patent and Trademark Office Database has the full text of patents which have been issued since 1976. The database includes the number, issue date and US classification for patents granted between 1790 and 1975. A file of the actual printed patent is also available for most patents granted after 1790.

Do you have a question for The Invention Geek? Submit it here.

Question from Mark A.:
What is an X-patent?

Prior to the Patent Act passed on July 4, 1836, patents were assigned by date and the name of the patentee. The Patent Act provided a system for numbering the patents. Patents issued before the Patent Act were renumbered in chronological order with an X after the number. The first patent every issued is now 1x.

Read more about X-patents and patent #1.

Do you have a question for The Invention Geek? Submit it here.

Question from Jill W.:
I was wondering: do patents ever expire?

Good question, Jill.

A United States patent that was filed after June 8, 1995 expires 20 years from the filing date. A patent that was filed before June 8, 1995 expires 17 years from the issue date or 20 years from the filing date whichever is later.

United States Utility Patents require maintenance fees to be paid. Fees are due at 3.5, 7 and 11.5 years from the date of issue. If these fees are not paid, the patent will expire before the 20 years have passed.

Do you have a question for The Invention Geek? Submit it here.

Question from Mike:
How many pages was the longest patent application ever?

Excellent question, Mike!

The longest patent application, US20070224201A for Compositions And Methods For The Diagnosis And Treatment Of Tumor, has 7,154 pages. This application also has the most figure sheets at 6,881 sheets.

Read the application here…

Do you have a question for The Invention Geek? Submit it here.

I get this question all the time. Sometimes the question is what is a patent plaque, other times it’s what is a patent award. In short it is an award plaque given to a company or inventor which displays their patent.

Patent plaques and patent awards come in many styles and material options. Some are hung on the wall while others stand on a desk or shelf. We even have done complete recognition walls for our corporate clients. The recognition wall consists of glass or acrylic panels attached to wire or metal post by a unique hardware display system. The glass and acrylic panels are typically imprinted with the patent number, inventors name, abstract and drawing. All panels are customizable to meet the client’s requirements.

Another question which I hear is “can I have a patent award made from my foreign patent?” The answer is yes. We have produced patent plaques and awards for numerous countries including Mexico, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, China, Korea, Japan and many more. Whether it’s a United States patent, World patent, European patent or a patent from any country a patent plaque can be produced.

For further information please feel free to contact Kevin Williams at 1-800-932-1662 x 104 or

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