International Patent Protection

Almost every country in the world recognizes some type of patent protection, although only a small subset allow for protection as extensive as can be obtained in the United States.  Nonetheless, non-US patents can be extraordinarily valuable.  International patent protection can be extremely valuable; for example, Chinese Courts have recently granted verdicts of $48 million and $7.4 million.  However, international patent protection can also be extremely expensive – the cost of the translations required to obtain protection around the world for a simple invention can be $100,000 or more.

We recommend that our clients take a targeted approach to obtaining patents outside of the United States, and, in many cases, delay their expenditures for international patent protection as long as possible.  For example, for example, most countries are are signatories to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”), and filing a PCT application within one year of your filing (generally on the last possible day), grants an additional eighteen months to choose which countries you wish to pursue patent protection in.  Accordingly, filing a PCT application grants you thirty (30) months to assess the value of the invention prior to having to file national applications.  Notably, Argentina, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and Iran are not signatories of the PCT.

When the time comes to file national applications, decisions will have to be made in which nations to file.  In addition, certain international treaties effectively allow for the filing of a single application that applies to a number of countries.  For example, filing an application in accordance with the European Patent Convention (EPC) will result in a single examination before the European Patent Office (EPO).  When the EPO approves the application, however, national patents in all designated states will be issued on payment of the appropriate issue fees.  This can be far less costly than pursuing separate patents in all European countries.

There are a number of other such organizations, each of which has different member states, and operates according to different rules.  Below is a partial list:

  1. The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization
  2. Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle
  3. Eurasian Patent Organization
  4. The Patent Office of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Bulf

In most cases, irrespective of whether an application is made directly to a particular State or through an appropriate International Patent Organization, once a patent is allowed, an issuance fee must be paid for each State.  After a patent is issued from a particular State, the patent holder has the right to enforce the patent in accordance with the laws of the issuing State.

If you have a question or issue regarding patents, please feel free to reach out to us via telephone or email. You may also fill out our online inquiry form and we will strive to get back to you within 24 hours.

Learn more about patents through any of our pages below:

A great patent starts with understanding the underlying technology