How to Protect Your Patent Internationally

Oct 16, 2022

When an innovative new idea comes to you, it’s understandable that you want to protect it around the world. However, the rights granted to U.S. patent holders only extend throughout the territory of the United States. The same concept applies to other countries, wherein a patent application you file in one country is only enforceable in that particular country.

Rather than having to take the time and money to file a patent application in every country around the world, you may be able to get international patent protection by filing what is known as a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application. We explain more about this process below.

Understanding the Patent Cooperation Treaty

The Patent Cooperation Treaty was an international patent law treaty implemented in 1970 that essentially provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications, which are submitted through the Receiving Office (RO). The treaty currently (at the time this blog was posted) includes the United States and 155 other designated states.

Benefits of a PCT Application

The biggest advantage of filing a PCT application is that you are able to preserve the filing date you have here in the U.S. and claim that date of filing in other countries. In other words, instead of having to file individual patent applications in numerous countries around the world, a process that for most is simply not feasible, you can seek protection for your invention simultaneously in a large number of counties.

During the PCT application process, you can choose to seek protection in all 156 of the contracting states or pick one or all of them. The approval of a patent application and granting of a patent remains in the hands of the national or regional office of each territory.

Watch our video to learn more about the benefits of filing a PCT application.

PCT Application Timeline

Many U.S. inventors find that a PCT application is  a rather easy and efficient way to obtain international patent protection. There are two ways to go about this. The first way is to file your U.S. patent application, wait 12 months to file your PCT application, and then wait an additional 18 to 20 months depending on how the application is filed and what you include in it. The second way involves submitting a PCT application right away instead of beginning with a U.S. patent application. The PCT will then come into the United States as well as any other countries you included as wanting patent protection in.

Key Points to Consider

There are a few things to keep in mind when filing a PCT application. For starters, it will never actually become a patent. Instead, what it does is:

  • Preserves your rights to enter other countries to get issued patents.
  • Preserve your filing date, as well as delay filing until the deadlines of the PCT application.

Another thing to consider is the cost factor of a PCT application. It is around $4,000, and remember, this is just in the application fee. A patent attorney will typically charge you anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours of time to prepare the application and file it. With that said, it does postpone some of the major costs associated with international patent protection and streamlines the process of fulfilling diverse and complex formality requirements in each country. For many inventors then, the benefits of filing a PCT application often outweigh the cost, especially if it’s an invention that has the potential for global reach.

Contact Dana Legal Services

When you have a dream in the form of an innovative new idea, you want to do everything in your power to protect it. Whether you are a U.S. inventor looking to file a PCT application or you are a foreign inventor looking for help obtaining patent protection within the U.S., our team is here for you. We can explain the requirements, application process, and timeline involved while answering any questions you may have along the way.

At Dana Legal Services, we believe in helping the next great inventors of our generation obtain maximum patent protection as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you need assistance filing a PCT application or have any other questions regarding your patent portfolio, contact us today! We offer free, no-obligation consultations.

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