Apex, NC asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for North Carolina

Q: I am designing a Beach shade system. How do I know what I can build and not build? What does patent pending mean?

Similar to the Shibumi Shade. What part of this patented and what isnt. I have a similar idea.

2 Lawyer Answers
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Pittsboro, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: Patent Pending means that the person has asked for a patent and the application has not yet been granted or denied. If someone puts patent pending on a box, that might have been accurate when they put it on the box but may not be accurate now.

To sort out what things are patented on beach shade and what things are in the public domain (perhaps from expired patents or patent applications that were published and abandoned) you need to work with a patent attorney.

You can do some initial searching on Google Patents and at the USPTO using tips in this slide set. http://bit.ly/Patent_Searching

But before you invest serious time and money into producing beach shades, you should invest in a freedom-to-operate search by a patent attorney. See https://www.flynniplaw.com/services/legal-services/freedom-to-operate/opinions

The patent attorney will help you see what is patented and in the pipeline ahead of you and you can decide whether to revise your design to avoid the patent claims.

As some pending applications are not visible, you cannot reduce the risk of a problem to zero but you can reduce the risk by doing the appropriate search and review.

If you found this answer helpful, you may want to look at my answers to other questions about patent law are available at the bottom of my profile page at


I hope that this helps.

Kevin E Flynn

John B. Hudak
John B. Hudak

A: At least one part of the process of new product development will include a search for other active patents, which the new product may infringe upon.

Patent pending means a patent application was filed for some aspect of the product.

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