Patent Law Agency, LLC has assisted numerous inventors in maneuvering through the complex maze of international patent laws. 

One simple reason for protecting your ideas, concepts, or products outside the U.S. is because a patent granted in one country or region is generally not enforceable in another country or region.

As a specific example, an inventor of a swimming product may determine that U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and South Africa are the largest markets for their new product.  In that case, they may seek patent protection in those countries and regions.  In general, a granted patent would confer the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling their swimming product in those countries and regions for a specified period.

Some of the complexities related to international patent laws include:   

Jurisdictional – Enforcement:

As indicated above, enforcement of Patent laws is generally jurisdictional.  That is, their enforcement is generally country or region specific.  Accordingly, most patent laws, rules, and regulations are country/regional-based and are governed and enforced within the jurisdiction of a country/region.  For example, a U.S. Patent is enforceable within the U.S.; a Brazilian Patent is enforceable in Brazil.  A U.S. Patent therefore, cannot be enforced in Brazil.

Inventors seeking patent protection for their ideas, concepts, or products in two or more countries/regions may directly file a patent application in each country or region for which they seek protection.  Alternatively, they may file a single international patent application under Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).  An international application filed under PCT is acceptable in all the countries that are signatory members of the treaty.

It should be noted that although PCT is a mechanism for filing of a single international patent application acceptable in all the countries that are signatory members of the treaty, there is however, no such thing as an “International Patent” that may result from the filing of the international patent application under PCT.  Accordingly, there is no such a thing as “international patent” that may be enforced worldwide. 

Jurisdictional – Laws

In addition to being jurisdictional enforceable, patent laws also differ vastly from country to country.  Without being too technical, under U.S. patent laws for example, inventors may elect not to publish their U.S. utility patent application while it is pending before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  If the non-publication option is selected, such a patent application will only be published after a patent is issued (granted) by the USPTO. No option of non-publication is provided in most other countries and hence, patent applications outside the U.S. will be published eighteen months after their effective filing date.  Accordingly, patent laws are jurisdictional specific and differ vastly from country to country.  

Jurisdictional – Language:

To add to the complexities of jurisdictional enforcement and wide differences between patent laws of each country or region is the language issue.

All patent applications must be filed in the official language of the country or region for which patent protection is sought.  Accordingly, whether filed directly or commencing the National Phase (or Stage) Entry of the foreign or international patent application, the filed patent application must be translated into the official language acceptable by the country or region.  

Jurisdictional – Representation:

A further complexity related to international patent filings is representation for direct foreign filing of a patent application or during National Phase or Stage entry of an International Patent Application. 

Given the vast differences and complexities in patent laws of each country and region, the Patent Offices of each country/region require that a Patent Law Practitioner (Patent Agent or attorney) be admitted to their respective patent bar to practice patent law in that country or region.  For example, a U.S. Patent Practitioner (U.S. Patent Agent or Attorney) cannot practice patent law in Japan unless they are also a resident of Japan and have studied and passed the required patent bar exam in Japan.  Accordingly, representation is also jurisdictional.

Please contact Patent Law Agency, LLC for your free, no obligation initial consultation to learn about the minimum requirements needed to commence work on an International Patent Application, including advantages that this type of application offers in terms of your overall patent and business strategies for your ideas, concepts, and product. Your call will be answered directly by a patent practitioner who will gladly assist you in all the details.