A phrase often seen on various devices that legally, doesn't mean anything. Basically, the manufacturer is claiming they have submitted a patent request to the Patent Office and is awaiting the result. During this time, there is no patent to enforce, so someone may actually go and copy the design. However, if the patent is granted, someone can become liable for patent infringement for activities after the patent was granted.

So what is the point of putting the phrase on an item? Technically it can be construed as a warning of a possible impending patent, to dissuade anyone from trying to copy the design. However, when I see the phrase on cardboard file folders, it seems to be more of a marketing tactic than anything else.

Sometimes it seems a bit of a scare tactic, especially considering that the phrase itself doesn't tell what part of the device may be patented. Of course that's not really feasible, but often it seems as if the pending patent of one minor design detail is used to scare away competition which may be able to build a device that works just the same without that minor detail.

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