35 U.S.C. 122 Confidential status of applications; publication of patent applications.
(b) PUBLICATION.— (1) IN GENERAL.— (A) Subject to paragraph (2), each application for a patent shall be published, in accordance with procedures determined by the Director, promptly after the expiration of a period of 18 months from the earliest filing date for which a benefit is sought under this title. At the request of the applicant, an application may be published earlier than the end of such 18-month period. (B) No information concerning published patent applications shall be made available to the public except as the Director determines.
"Patent Pending" serves as warning against potential, retroactive infringement but how does one validate that a patent has indeed been filed prior to publication, and the scope of the claims?
The specific problem I'm thinking about relates to a software implementation of what may be understood as a "basic" game patent, in the sense that it is a novel set of fundamental mechanics upon which an array of related games can be expressed. The initial product will represent only one game mode, while the scope of the patent covers modes that will not be initially developed but for which infringement protection will still be sought, pending future development.
Although early publication can be applied for with the USPTO, it take 14 weeks and is not guaranteed...