I recently came to know that one of the patent we filed in my previous organization has been abandoned. I am currently preparing my resume for PhD applications. I am confused whether to specify the abandoned patent in resume/CV considering the effort involved in coming up with the patent.

I thought of specifying like this in resume

"Patent Name", "Inventors:....", "Application No....","Status-Abandoned"

  • 5
    Perhaps more important is why it was abandoned - they will surely ask...
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 14, 2019 at 19:30
  • 5
    The term "abandoned" can refer to either a patent or a patent application. A patent application is abandoned if fees are not paid or you don't respond to the USPTO in time. In that case, there is no patent. A patent can be abandoned if it's granted and you don't pay the appropriate renewal fees. In that case, you did get a patent. It matters which of these two things happened. (See this page for a summary of how this all works.) Sep 15, 2019 at 6:25
  • A patent can be abandoned as a business decision as well as because of lack of novelty. Really it is a balance as most applications (by decent researchers) can be got across the goal line with enough expense and with enough limitation of the claims. I think its fine to list an abandoned patent (labeled as such). It's actually technically still a publication (in the patent literature, as an application, not a granted patent).
    – guest
    Sep 16, 2019 at 4:55

3 Answers 3


I'm assuming you mean abandoned in the sense defined by the USPTO. A patent (application) is abandoned if the application is never completed for some reason and cannot move forward to registration. In that sense an abandoned patent is not a patent, so it would seem to be a mistake to include it as anything other than incomplete and abandoned work.

Perhaps you can find a way to include the work in another way that is more positive. Did it result in any publications, for example?

  • Unfortunately, it didn't result in a publication. But your definition of a patent gives a clear idea.
    – aimthiazz
    Sep 15, 2019 at 4:51
  • 8
    The USPTO does not refer to an incomplete application as an abandoned patent. That would be an abandoned patent application. A patent is abandoned if renewal fees are not paid. The OP's terminology is confusing. They say the "patent we filed", but you don't file a patent, the government grants one. You file an application. Sep 15, 2019 at 6:27

You can include anything you want in your CV as long as you use precise language. Your “abandoned patent” sounds like it’s not actually an abandoned patent but is an abandoned patent application. Personally I don’t think it will be of much, or possibly any, value on your CV, but whether that’s the case or not would depend on the specific nature of the invention you tried to patent and the reason for abandoning the application. I can imagine hypothetical (though unlikely) scenarios where it might be worth mentioning. And even if you don’t mention it on your CV, the story of the abandoned application can still make for a nice anecdote to mention in an interview or a statement of purpose.

Regardless, whatever you do, do not use the word “patent” to refer to something that has not been approved as an official patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office or some other national or international patent registration agency. The correct phrase to use in your situation is “patent application”. A related term that people sometimes use for applications that are under review by the patent office is patent pending, but that only applies to applications that are still pending, and yours isn’t since it’s been abandoned, so you shouldn’t use that term either.


A huge number of patent applications - and patents - are of questionable scientific value, and are often just "IP grabs" by large corporations. In fact, probably most patent applications and possibly even most patents are like that - AFAICT. They are definitely not peer-reviewed contributions.

I have no idea how they are considered when it comes to PhD track applications (and possibly they don't matter that much at all) - but I'd be careful about up-playing your work on patents overmuch. Specifically with respect to that abandoned patent application - perhaps you should focus on the actual innovative aspect of your work rather than on whether or not a patent was formally registered.

  • Some patents are useful, anyway.
    – Buffy
    Sep 15, 2019 at 11:22
  • 1
    A huge number of academic papers are also of questionable scientific value. Is that a reason for someone applying for PhD programs not to list their publications on their CV? And as for patents not being peer-reviewed, they are reviewed by patent examiners, who judge them based on specific criteria of novelty and nonobviousness among other things. So a patent being formally registered does mean something, and it is completey rational to regard it as an achievement worth listing in one’s CV.
    – Dan Romik
    Sep 15, 2019 at 18:22
  • @DanRomik: Let me rephrase. Also, I don't think highly of the criteria by which patents are judged.
    – einpoklum
    Sep 15, 2019 at 18:59

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