You have one year from the time you first use your invention publicly or offer it for sale in the U.S., or publish a description of it anywhere in the world, to file an application for a patent in the U.S. After that you may be barred from a patent.
The term “patent pending” means a patent application is on file. It may or may not be approved as a patent.
Patents give you the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing your invention into the U.S. for a period of 20 years from the date of filing (14 years from issue in design cases) as described on https://easyreadernews.com/why-inventhelp-has-become-so-crucial-for-new-inventors/.
Patents cover “things” or physical processes, not ideas or concepts.
Patents generally take about a year-and-a-half to issue.
Most companies require that you at least have a patent pending before they will consider licensing your invention.
Both patent agents and patent attorneys are authorized to represent clients before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. They are required to have at least a baccalaureate degree in science and pass the federal patent bar examination as discussed on https://thriveglobal.com/stories/a-discussion-about-inventhelp-and-helping-people-achieve-their-goals/.
A patent attorney must also have a graduate degree in law and pass the state bar examination is his or her state. Patent attorneys can practice law in other fields of law, such as copyrights and trademarks.