Patents are territorial, as 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 countries. Each foreign country has its own patent laws and, varying patent application requirements.
If you are an inventor and plan to patent your invention in foreign countries, you must obtain a patent in the foreign country’s patent office. This includes paying filing and maintenance fees in those foreign countries. Read on to learn more on how you can obtain a patent overseas.
What is required of a US inventor to pursue a patent in a foreign country?
If you want to file for a patent overseas, and if the invention was made in the US, you will first need 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 after filing the U.S. application.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
The PCT came into force on January 24, 1978, and it is still a popular option. The treaty standardizes the patent filing procedures, making it easy to apply to protect an invention in different member countries. Over 124 countries, including the U.S., are now members of the treaty.
What are the PCT procedures?
Below are some of the key steps of the PCT process.
- The first step is to file the PCT application with a regional or national patent office. The application is made in one language, and you pay a standard application fee.
- A helpful aspect of a PCT filing is an International search which can be helpful in the later country decision(s).
- Another step is international publication. This occurs 18 months after the earliest filing date. Through the publication, the details of your international application are made public.
- National Phase. This is the final step, which occurs at or after 30 months from the earliest filing date of your application, and is the point at which you choose in which countries to pursue protection.
Though these steps may seem relatively simple, patent law is often more complex than meets the eye. An experienced patent lawyer can help you navigate your next steps.