You have come up with this great invention that no one has thought of before. In fact, it’s so good that you are even thinking of patenting it to prevent competitors from copying and profiting from the invention. And now you are probably wondering can I get a worldwide patent for my invention?
Well, the short answer is No ( :-( unfortunately). You cannot file a worldwide patent because worldwide patents don’t exist. But ( :-) good news), there are a few steps you can take to safeguard your invention from international competition.
In this article, we will discuss more about international patent protection and how you can prevent foreign competitors from profiting from your invention. But before we get to that, let’s first take a look at why you cannot obtain a worldwide pattern.
Worldwide patents: Why don’t they exist?
Currently, we don’t have an international system that protects and enforces patents globally. Patents only protect an invention in the country where they are registered. For example, if you patent your invention in the United States, then your invention is only protected in the United States and it cannot be enforced outside the US.
To obtain “worldwide” patent protection you’d have to file a patent separately in all countries in the world - which is pretty expensive, time-consuming, and, in most cases, not possible.
While there’s no such thing as a worldwide patent, there are various ways in which you can safeguard your invention from foreign competitors. Let’s have a look at some of these ways below.
How to protect your patent from foreign competition
The best way to obtain protection for your IP internationally is through a Patent Cooperation Treaty application (PCT).
What is a PCT?
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international treaty that makes it possible to file a patent simultaneously in more than 150 contracting states, as a placeholder application for 30 months as you decide which countries you need protection in. A PCT patent application helps you streamline the initial filing process by makes it easier and cheaper for you to obtain a patent in a large number of countries.
By filing your patent through the PCT, you can embark on a process to seek patent protection for your invention in every country that is a member of the Treaty.
Although, the PCT may seem synonymous with an “international patent” it is important to note that, the PCT only enables you to initiate a uniform patent application with multiple countries. For your patent to ‘mature’ in each country, you will have to claim patent protection directly in each country since patents are examined and granted by individual countries.
The PCT, therefore, is just a convenient and uniform process that makes it possible for applicants to embark on the road towards patent protection with multiple countries without having to initially make unique applications to every country.
2. Focus on your largest market
On one hand, patenting your invention worldwide may seem like an incredible way to safeguard your IP from foreign competition, but on the other hand, it can be expensive and time-consuming. It is estimated that filing a patent in every country would cost over $1 million in filing and maintenance fees alone.
Therefore, if you are a small or medium-sized business it makes sense to only focus your efforts and resources on patenting your invention in countries where it matters most.
Since the US, EU, Japan, and China are the largest consumer markets in the world for most products, filing a patent in these countries would be easier and cost-effective than trying to obtain a patent from a large number of countries. Patenting your invention in these countries will keep competitors from directly competing with you and, therefore, safeguarding your market.
Focusing your IP protection efforts on your largest market is also not only easier but helps you get the most bang for your IP protection buck
While it may seem like a great idea to obtain patent protection worldwide, we don’t recommend you aggressively pursue patent protection in each country in the world. This is because it’s not only time-consuming but also very expensive. Instead, consider patenting your invention in countries where you anticipate selling your products or where you expect to face most competition.
Have a question on Intellectual property protection? Feel free to reach out to us! We will be happy to strategize and talk about it. Good luck!
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