What is the difference between traditional and virtual marking?

James Burnes

Article written by:

James Burnes

PatentStatus - Founder & CEO

For more than 100 years, patentees have been marking their articles to give constructive notice.

Until recently, they have only had the option to affix the patent number directly to the article to ensure proper marking. When direct marking has not been possible, a label, product packaging or another close association between the article or method itself and the patent has been deemed acceptable.

Traditional marking is expensive to maintain – and even more costly to update as new patents are issued, old patents expire or claims modify in litigation.

The America Invents Act amended the marking statute to permit virtual marking as an alternative. It replaces the marking of specific, applicable patent numbers on the article with a web site address where a list of patents, the “registry,” is available (View options for virtual marking URLs).

The statute states the patentee must use “Patent” or “Pat.” together with a web address on the article – and then list applicable patents for the article on the registry. In doing so, the patentee has provided the same constructive notice that traditional, affixed marking does (Learn more about virtual marking registry design).

AIA Section 16 Virtual Marking Statute

Virtual marking benefits patentees by separating the patent marking, packaging, manufacturing, and marketing processes. Learn more about the advantages to virtual marking.