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Does my U.S. patent protect me in other countries?

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2021 | Patent Law

Patents are territorial, and they only offer protection in the country where they have been filed. This means that your U.S.-registered patent is not recognized in other foreign countries. Most foreign countries have their own patent laws and different patent application requirements.

If you are an inventor and plan to exploit your invention in foreign countries, you must register your patent in the foreign country’s regional patent offices. You might also be required to pay some patent registration and maintenance fees in those foreign countries. Read on to learn more on how you can register your U.S. patent overseas.

What are the U.S. requirements for registering a patent in a foreign country?

If you want to file your patent overseas, you will first get a permit from the Director of the USTPO. The license is mainly obtained if you want to make an application for a foreign patent first before filing one in the U.S. You can also get the permit if you want to apply for a foreign patent in less than a year after making the U.S. application.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

The PCT came into force on January 24, 1978, and it is still practical to date. The treaty standardizes the patent filing procedures, making it easy to register the same patent in different member countries. Over 124 countries, including the U.S., are now members of the treaty. 

What are the PCT procedures?

Below are the set PCT procedures to follow when registering your patent overseas.

  • The first step is to file an application with the regional or national patent office. The application is made in one language, and you also pay a standard application fee.
  • The second procedure is the International search through the International Searching Authority (ISA) to ensure that your patent meets all the PCT requirements.
  • The third step is international publication. This is done after at least 18 months of making the application. During the publication, the details of your international application are made public.
  • An optional Supplementary International Search. There are numerous publications; some made in different languages. A second ISA search helps dig deep and in various fields to ensure that your invention has not been patented in the country of interest.
  • National Phase. This is the final step, and it usually occurs at or after 30 months from the earliest filing date of your first application. At this stage, you can now enquire more about the grants of your patents from the patent officers of the country of interest.

Though these steps may seem relatively simple, any process in patent law can be more complex than meets the eye. An experienced patent lawyer can help you navigate your next steps.