International Patent Protection

International patent protection is required to preclude others from use of an invention outside the United States. International patent protection can be obtained by either filing under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT Filing”), or filing directly with each country in which a patent is desired (“Direct Filing”). While there are benefits and advantages of each, PCT filing is generally viewed as the superior approach for those who know already that international patent protection is desired.

International Patent Protection: International patent protection is required to preclude others from use of an invention outside the United States.
International patent protection is required to preclude others from use of an invention outside the United States.

No Single Patent Is Enforceable Worldwide

International patent protection cannot be obtained through one single filing. Because the patent laws of every country are different, subject matter that is patentable in one country may not be patentable in a different country. Consequently, international patent protection must be obtained country-by-country for each country in which international protection is desired.

There Are Two Methods for Obtaining International Patent Protection: PCT Filing and Direct Filing

There are two ways to obtain international patent rights: PCT Filing and Direct Filing. For the reasons discussed above, international patent protection requires filing individually with each country in which patent protection is sought.

The Direct Route Involves Filing Patent Applications Directly With The Patent Office Of Each Country In Which International Patent Protection Is Sought

Direct Filing entails drafting multiple patent applications in accordance with the patent laws of each desired country, then retaining patent counsel in each such country to file and prosecute the applications through grant. This process is known as the “Direct Route.” Because an inventor’s own work can be cited against him in most countries, it is crucial to Direct Route filing that all applications be filed simultaneously.

International patent filing via the direct route requires filing directly with each country in which protection is sought a unique patent application drafted to comport with local patent laws
International patent filing via the direct route requires filing directly with each country in which protection is sought a unique patent application drafted to comport with local patent laws

This can get expensive, and can present issues where patent rights are desired in additional countries subsequent to the initial set of filings. Additionally, this cost is necessarily an up-front one, because staggering these initial filings will likely result in a loss of patent rights.

The PCT Route Allows For Filing A Single Application In Multiple Countries Rather Than Dealing With Each Directly From The Start

PCT Filing resolves some of the deficiencies of the Direct Route, particularly those surrounding the burdens of multiple up-front filings. The process of PCT Filing entails filing a PCT application with a World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) receiving office within twelve months of the earliest priority date, and then filing within 30 months of the earliest priority date that same PCT application directly in each individual country for which protection is sought. This process is known as the “PCT Route.”

International filing via the PCT Route allows a single, unified application to be submitted to an international office before filing directly with each country of interest.
International patent filing via the PCT Route allows a single, unified application to be submitted to an international office before filing directly with each country of interest.