United States Patent and Trademark Office
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is the government agency responsible for examining patent applications and issuing patents. A patent is a type of property right. It gives the patent holder the right, for a limited time, to exclude others from making, using, or selling the subject matter that is within the scope of protection granted by the patent. The PTO determines whether a patent should be granted in a particular case. However, it is up to the patent holder to enforce his or her own rights if the PTO does grant a patent. The day that you send your application to the PTO (via express mail) is the day that you can associate the words "Patent Pending" with your invention. It generally takes six to twelve months before you will receive either the first office action, or an allowance of your patent. Once your patent application issues, or is denied (final rejection), you will remove the words "Patent Pending" from your invention.