How to File Patents in Multiple Countries

How to File Patents in Multiple Countries

Your U.S. patent is granted and you are ready to implement your idea. Whether it’s releasing new products, enhancing services, or developing a promotional strategy, you should be aware that a U.S. patent does not protect your invention outside of the United States.

To address this issue, you have two options: filing a patent in each country individually, or filing a single international application and specifying the countries where you want patent protection. The latter is a more efficient approach, which I will discuss in this article.

The importance of priority date

Before we proceed, let me explain the concept of priority date. Say you have a rough draft of your invention but don’t have a detailed description yet. In this case, you can file a provisional application that includes a brief summary of your invention. Within 12 months, you can file a full patent application. It’s important to note that a provisional application in the U.S. does not offer international protection.

By filing a provisional application, you establish a priority date. If someone publishes or files a similar patent before your full patent application, their disclosure doesn’t count as prior art. To give your patent an edge, it is advisable to file a provisional patent application before the full application.

Filing a patent application in multiple countries

To file a patent application in multiple countries, you can utilize the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT allows inventors to simultaneously patent their invention in different countries using a single international patent application.

An international patent application, filed through the PCT, simplifies the process of obtaining patent protection, eliminating the need for multiple regional or national applications.

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The process of filing a patent application under the PCT involves two phases: the international phase and the national phase.

In the international phase, you can either file your international patent application directly with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or file it with your national patent office first and then file the international application.

The International Search Authority (ISA) conducts a patent search and provides an international search report (ISR) within 18 months of the earliest filing date. If necessary, a supplementary search can be requested to mitigate the risk of a prior art finding.

Based on the ISR, amendments can be made to increase the chances of the patent application being granted. An International Preliminary Analysis can be requested to assess the patentability of the amended application.

In the national phase, you select the countries where you want to obtain patent protection. Each country’s patent office conducts a separate search to determine whether your application is eligible for patent protection.

In conclusion, the PCT route is a cost-effective way to protect your patent application in multiple countries. It also allows a 30-month timeline from the earliest filing date to decide on the countries where you want to pursue patent protection for your invention.

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