Patent pending is an expression that basically means the “patent has been applied for”, which should be enough to ward off potential infringers. The term Patent Pending is allowed to be used prior to the patent being issued but is only allowed after the patent application has been filed.
Typically the Patent Pending is seen on manufactured on everyday goods informing people that you have filed for an application and waiting to see if it has been granted.
Once the patent has been approved the phrase will be removed and the actual patent number will be referred to.
Any people who do infringe on your patent pending are liable for damages including back paid loyalties, goods seized and injunctions on approval of your patent. For this reason people tend not to copy patents as there is a lot at stake.
By law you are not legally allowed to add or refer to your product as having a “patent pending” if you do not actually have a patent pending. Large fines will be incurred if you are found to be fraudulent.
Again you need to research “patent pending” with regards to the country you are living in. For example in Australia the term “patent pending” refers to an invention that has had a patent application filed but not necessary been granted. In the United States the term “patent pending” is only allowed to be used once the patent application has been approved and patent issues/granted.
In some countries such as the United States a warning notice should be placed on your product along with the patent application number. Again be aware that under current interpretation of the “offence” of placing a patent pending on your product when you don’t have one could result in damages for each mis-marked article produced with the mark. This offence could result in damages of hundreds of millions of dollars for high volume production of consumer goods.