When searching for the best process through which to obtain a patent, it’s a good idea to connect with an experienced IP attorney to help you with this process. Furthermore, a lawyer can help you work through the issues associated with whether or not you should be obtaining patents in multiple countries. A thorough approach to protection involves careful selection of the locations in which you intend to pursue an official patent. One challenging aspect of this is that there are different processes between places and each filing option has pros and cons to be aware of.
The Geographical Limits of Patents
What many people do not realize is that patents have geographical limitations. A patent is only good for the country in which it was issued. So, in the event that you have a U.S. patent, for example, this does not include protecting your invention outside of the United States of America. If you need to protect your invention in a country, you need to obtain a patent for that country.
In addition, bear in mind that a patent does not give you the right to do anything. It only lets you prevent others from selling, making, offering for sale or importing that patented invention in the country where the patent is in effect. Some of the key questions that should be asked when considering what countries to pursue a patent in include:
- In what country do I want to prevent my competitors from making, selling, offering for sale or importing the patented invention?
- Does that country have a patent protection system?
How Do I Know Where to File?
Once you have answered these questions, consider how you want to file for patent protection in those countries. You typically at least file in the country where the invention was conceived or where you had the idea for this concept. If you do not want to pursue a patent protection format in this country, then it is a good idea to first obtain a foreign filing license from that country’s patent office so that you can first file in a foreign country. The numerous mechanisms to file for a patent application are; direct filing in the country where the invention was conceived, then direct filing within one year of the priority filing in countries where you want patent protection under the Paris Convention.
The Paris Convention was adopted in 1883 and applies to industrial property in the widest sense such as utility models patents, trade names, trademarks, service marks, industrial designs, geographical indications, and repressing unfair competition. This was the first major international agreement taken to protect creators and give them some peace of mind that their intellectual creations were protected in other countries. There are currently 176 contracted member countries. While there is no such thing as a worldwide patent, however, there is something that comes close.
There is a patent application that referred to as the international patent application. The international treaty that authorizes this is referred to as the Patent Cooperation Treaty or the PCT. You can file an international application pursuant to the PCT rules and this will serve as something similar to a worldwide patent application or as valid in all countries that have ratified the PCT. The patent application process can be uniform and streamlined. The European Patent Office is another important thing to remember if you are thinking about filing for a patent and protecting your rights around the world. Filing at the EPO does not necessarily grant you a European patent. Your application is instead examined in one central office, but in the event that it needs to be validated which is mostly an administrative task in the individual member country where protection is sought, you must go through this process.
The Bottom Line on Foreign Patent Applications
Each type of filing has its pros and cons. No matter how you approach the process, engaging with an experienced intellectual property attorney is strongly recommended. There is no doubt that as a CEO, you will constantly be in the process of wanting to protect your intellectual property and have questions about the various countries in which it makes sense to do so. Having a formed relationship with an experienced intellectual property attorney can go a long way towards giving you peace of mind and giving you an avenue to get your questions answered promptly when they arise.
It’s never easy to decide the right course of action when pursuing a patent application, and small mistakes made at the outset can cost you significantly down the road. It’s much easier to structure your patent application properly after meeting with a New Jersey IP attorney who has years of experience in the field. You’ve worked hard on your material, and it’s just as important to protect it properly.