International Patents

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U.S. inventors can gain patent protection in countries outside the United States in two ways:

  • by filing separately in each country where protection is desired under certain rules established by the Paris Convention, or
  • by filing an “international application” with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization, an office established under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This single filing establishes a filing date good in all member countries, although the patent owner must file separate “national” applications in each member country where the owner wants coverage. The European Patent Office is considered a single entity for the purpose of the PCT.

Although other treaties exist between the United States and certain countries pertaining to reciprocal patent protection, the two mentioned above provide the primary -international protection for U.S. inventors. In this section, we discuss the basic rules for establishing patent protection outside the U.S.