How to Apply for an International Patent

With today’s international markets, foreign competitors and overseas manufacturers, it’s no longer sufficient to simply obtain patent protection in your home country. More and more applicants are filing abroad, resulting in record numbers of foreign applications. So what are the steps in filing your application internationally?

One way to file a patent application in a foreign country is by filing via the Paris Convention. Typically, applicants will first file a patent application in their home country. If that home country is a member of the Paris Convention, the applicant has 12 months to file a corresponding application with the patent office of another contracting State. Under the Paris Convention priority right, any later-filed application will be afforded the earlier filing date of the first application.

Once the foreign application is filed, it will be examined by that country’s patent office, and the applicant will need to overcome any rejection issued by the Examiner.

Another common process for filing your application abroad is to file an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This option is especially attractive for applicants unsure of where they will ultimately need patent protection or those looking to defer costs as long as possible.

Applicants typically start the PCT process by filing an application in their home country, thus establishing the priority date. Similar to the Paris Convention, they then have 12 months from the priority date to file a corresponding PCT application. The PCT application does not directly result in an issued patent; rather, it serves as a placeholder for future international filings. There are 148 current members of the PCT, and the PCT application can be filed into any of these member States. 30 or 31-months after the priority date, the PCT application enters the national stage, meaning that the applicant files the PCT application into the jurisdictions where patent protection is desired. The patent office of each jurisdiction then examines the application, and the applicant again needs to overcome these rejections before the patent is issued.

This is just a quick overview of how to file your application in other countries. Further information on the Paris Convention and the PCT can be found on our website.