International Patent Filing: Everything You Need to Know

International patent applications is the first step in letting you get exclusive rights to your inventions in over 150 countries around the world.

Patent protection has been debated for the past many years due to its nature of concentrating the exclusivity to a single person. Till date, the debate has not been won over and distinctive view exist all around the globe.

A patent application is always jurisdictional and the protection provided is limited to the country in which the first application is filed.

What is International Patent Application?

An International patent application is a step towards letting you get exclusive rights to your inventions in the countries around the world. These patents offer more protection when compared to a patent filed in the local jurisdiction.

The common way of filing a patent application abroad is through the Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT).

Harmonization of Patent Law

The patent application is territorial in nature whereas a business may cross the boundaries and venture into territories where the owner has not yet sought protection for his intellectual property. Patent for all the countries is not the same and hence the applicants face problem while filing a patent application in other countries. WIPO witnessing this problem among the countries implemented treaty as per which the patent law across the nation was standardised.

Harmonization with the patent law began with the Paris Convention Treaty in 1883. In this knowledge-based economy, patent applications are on the rise. WIPO established a system of patent protection through which the applicant is able to safeguard his invention in various states.

Reasons to Consider While Filing International Patent Application

An International patent application is definitely a for sure way of protecting your invention globally. Following benefits are availed through filing an International patent application.

  • International Business

If you have an International business presence, you definitely need International patent protection. An International patent application means you don't have to file multiple patent application separately for every state you desire to obtain protection in.

The International patent application gives your application priority over other inventions while providing you time to decide where to file.

  • Global Distribution

Your office headquarters might be in India, but you might have manufacturing units and products that you might sell abroad. Getting an International patent will provide protection for your intellectual property no matter where you do business.

  • Expansion Plans

A startup usually has a plan to expand their business sometime in the future, hence filing an International patent application for the novel technology will ensure that such plans can be easily carried out.

Such startups also have the possibility of attracting investors who appreciate their approach towards expansion.


Also Read: What is International Patent Classification?

Timeline for International Patent Applications

Aa PCT application must be filed within 12 months of filing the first application with IPTO. Each state has its own plan for filing patent applications. The applicant is always recommended to consult the specific state's schedule to meet the target date prescribed.

There is no such deadline for filing a first patent application in India. In general, you should submit a patent application as early as possible in the invention process as there is a possibility that the method of the invention might be divulged without the permission of the inventor.

If the inventor uses the PCT to file internationally, the inventor can buy himself some time. He can then analyse which country he needs to submit the application.

The time provided before filing information grants the inventor a chance of successfully figuring out the market and demand of his invention in the market of the party countries.essful. 

Types of International Application

1. Patent Corporation Treaty (PCT)

PCT is a treaty that has been ratified by 150 countries around the globe. The following treaty makes it possible for the patent applicant to file the application in more than one country with a single application with a standardised format.

The application filed with the patent office has to be filed in the English language.


Advantages of filing an application under PCT

A patent application filed in the country where the inventor resides provides protection for that particular jurisdiction only.

  • The treaty streamlined and reduced the cost of filling a patent application in more than one country.
  • The applicant can file a single patent application with the patent office where he is resident in and specify the member states in which the person seeks protection.
  • PCT application provides you benefit of International search report for the invention. This provides you insight for your technology and aspects that will be protected under the patent law.

Paris Convention Treaty

The International treaty was signed in the year 1883 on March 20th and was considered a milestone as the treaty paved way for filing an international patent for the first time.

  • The applicant as per the treaty has a time limitation to file the patent application with the patent office of other countries. the limitation depends upon the type of patent application filed
  • The treaty has been enforced by 173 countries and hence the protection provided to intellectual property is very extensive.
  • The applicant had to file a patent application separately for every nation in which he aspired to obtain patent protection.
  • The treaty provided priority to the patent application filed in the countries over other patent applications submitted on a later date.

PCT Process

PCT is considered a more comfortable and cost-effective method of filing an international patent application.

The Patent Corporation Treaty involves division of entities that handle international patent application with the patent. There may be four division, but practically all of them have been divided into two bodies.

  • WIPO
  • Patent Office

The process of the patent involves following division of entities :

1.Receiving office (RO)

The patent office acts as a receiving office. The main purpose of RO is to accept your application as long as at least one of the applicant is a resident of India. The filing of patent application with RO is also considered the first step in the International patent application process.

2.International Bureau

IB concludes the second step in the International patent application. The primary job of the IB is to publish your application and act as a central coordinating body for your patent application.

3. International Searching Authority(ISA)

The third step is completed by International search authority; Whose basic job is to conduct a prior art search of your invention. The applicant can elect the PTO as your ISA.

4.International Preliminary Examination Authority (IPEA)

The following authority gets involved with your patent application after you make a request for a preliminary search of your patent application. The primary function of IPEA is to issue an examination report which is then to be expressed to each of the elected offices by the International Bureau.

Timeline of Patent Application

The PCT process is very time-dependent and can be best understood through timeline division:

Stage 1: International Stage

 Once a patent application is filed under the patent cooperation treaty with the patent office, the priority date for the application is set. The timeline of the PCT application is calculated from the date of the first filed application. The applicant has to file PCT application from the 12 months from the date of the first application filed within the applicants country.

Step 2: PCT National Stage

National stage is where you enter the individual filings in each of the countries you have designated to obtain a patent. The national stage application is to be filed with the patent office of each designated country before the expiry of 30 months from the date of the first filed application.  

Keep in mind, the countries selected must be one from the list of country that the applicant has previously designated in his demand.

The Rationale behind International Patent Protection

The principal objective of the patent law was not only to provide patent protection but to also to promote innovation in the field of technology. Patent protection involves focused and effective planning on the part of the applicant.

The states instead of keeping the invention secret came up with effective planning as per which the inventor was provided monopoly right over the invention for a limited period of time.