Providing notice to potential infringers is critical to recovering damages in infringement suits. Notice may be provided by affixing the words “patent” or “Patent No.” and the actual issued patent number to the article in a conspicuous manner. In the event of failure to mark, the patentee may not recover damages from an infringer unless the infringer was notified of the infringement and continued to infringe after the notice.
Products or articles sold after applying for a patent, but before the patent issues may have affixed the terms “Patent Applied For” or “Patent Pending.” These phrases give notice that an application for patent has been filed in the Patent and Trademark Office and may be subject to patent protection in the future, as patent protection does not start until the patent is granted by the Patent Office.
False use of these phrases or their equivalent is prohibited and will subject businesses and individuals to liability including lawsuits for fraud, penalties, and other fines for each fraudulent use. Current U.S. law allows for any individual to bring suit against a company or individual selling or offering for sale, articles bearing false marks.