From the moment you file an application to protect your invention, you do have rights under patent law. However, until the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) approves your application for a patent, protection for your invention may be somewhat limited. Taking it phase by phase, the sections below describe your rights during the process of applying for and acquiring a patent.
The first thing you should know is that prior to submitting your patent application, you have very little protection. However, it is possible to take legal action against another party should an attempt to steal your ideas occur. In such a circumstance, you could pursue a trade secret infringement remedy as long as you have taken steps to protect valuable information about your product.
After you have filed your patent application, some protections and rights do apply. For example, you will have the right to label your product and all associated materials as "patent pending." This label or mark exists to warn anyone who may want to steal your invention that legal consequences will likely occur once your patent application receives approval.
Upon approval by the USPTO, the full range of patent law rights and protections begin. This protection lasts for 20 years and prohibits any other party from using, selling and creating your invention without your consent. If someone does attempt to steal or copy your invention, you have the right to file an infringement lawsuit against this other party.
If you require information that is more detailed about your rights or the patent application process, you will benefit from consulting with a California based patent law attorney. Doing so will also ensure you complete the patent application properly.
Source: FindLaw, "Patent Enforcement FAQ," accessed Oct. 25, 2017