Filing an ‘international patent’ often informally refers to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application. The Patent Cooperation Treaty is the official law administered and governed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), alongside the support of corresponding national and regional laws. WIPO is an umbrella organisation under which currently 193 member states member states operate, also known as ‘contracting states.’
The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) was enacted in response to the industrial revolution. It gave inventors the opportunity to file a patent application (priority document or filing) on a specific date (priority date) in their home country. However, after a maximum of a 12-month period from the priority date, you are required to file an individual Paris Convention application to make it legally binding in other countries. You can read more about that process here!
What is a patent?
A patent provides a full legal framework for registered intellectual property – creative ideas, unique concepts, innovations, or specific technical advancements, etc., You will gain exclusive legal rights for an allocated period of time, in exchange for collective universal publishing rights. Only upon giving explicit permission will another individual gain legal access to your registered intellectual property. The power is in your hands!
The primary objective of a patent is to prevent commercial exploitation by third parties. In a globalised world, the element of exclusivity is fundamental for your intellectual property. Safeguarding by means of an international patent functions as an insurance policy. You will ultimately prevent long term financial losses and enhance the unique selling point to future investors. For example, with patent protection, your intellectual property will guarantee a marketplace monopoly, increasing the overall profitability.
Can your invention be patented?
Prior to submitting a PCT application, you must ensure that you are first eligible in accordance with PCT law regulations. Essential criteria includes that you are either a citizen of a member state (contracting state) or a registered resident of a member state. Furthermore, exploring the international patent search database will reveal whether or not your intellectual property is deemed patentable. You can enter specific keywords and descriptive terms to gain a general understanding to determine your unique and exclusive rights.
Once your eligibility is determined, you can apply for a patent by submitting a PCT application either nationally, for example, in the United States of America or Germany. Otherwise, the PCT application can be applied for internationally through the WIPO in Geneva.
How do I register a patent? – PCT Application process
The Patent Cooperation Treaty shares many similarities with the Paris Convention. However, the PCT application includes the International Search Report as part of the process. This is an investigation into the ‘prior art’ of everything already available to the public sphere – all written content and relevant illustrations.
The International Preliminary Examination is a non-compulsory process. However, if you decide to go ahead with it for a second opinion, you can do this with an International Preliminary Examining Authority or an International Searching Authority (IPEA or ISA). You will gain further insight into the patentability of your intellectual property. From here the required adjustments can be implemented. It’s strongly advisable to eliminate any possible issues that could arise when the PCT application enters the national phase.
The national phase refers to the process when the PCT application will be presented to the corresponding national patent office/s in each member state. EHLION offers professional and accurate technical documentation translation to comprehensively outline the fundamental elements required – Who, what, why, where, when and how? Reach out to EHLION and get the answers to these important questions!
What happens in the international phase and national phase?
The PCT allows you to file one PCT application from your member state. This PCT application guarantees full legal recognition, but only for a short period of time in every other member state. This is referred to as the international stage of your PCT application. The process is the first step taken in the lengthy application process that is temporarily recognised by all member states. The international phase acts as a ‘reservation tool,’ until you decide how many countries you would like to fully implement the legal status of your patent. For example, out of the current 193 member states, you can decide to constitute the patent in one country, a handful of countries, or have your patent granted worldwide. The decision is in your hands!
Industrialised nations with a well-developed economy and progressive technological advancements are important member states to focus on when it comes to securing your patent. Pay special commercial attention to China, Japan, France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and Russia. The ‘reservation’ period is valid for up to two and a half years (30 months) from the initial filing of your PCT application. The PCT application is fully matured and the process of creating individual patent applications (national phase) is immediately required. Filing through the Paris Convention is another alternative route. However, it only secures a 12-month period from the filing date to enter the national phase.
The national stage refers to all PCT applications that are processed and granted through national or regional patent offices. The receiving office acts on behalf of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to create a streamlined and accessible service to obtain a patent. A patent is a territorial right that corresponds with the jurisdictional laws of each contracting state. Legal jargon is another language in itself! Get in touch with EHLION today for the best professional advice.
International Patent Protection and Duration
Filing an ‘international patent’ will not gain long term protection for your intellectual property in each member state. To have your patent protected internationally and on a long-term basis, you will need to apply to each member state individually, in the country’s official national language.
According to the European Patent Convention, all patents issued in Europe will last for a total of 20 years from the filing date. Extending the patent beyond 20 years will depend on the individual law of each member state. The duration of a patent in the United States of America is also 20 years. However, it’s important to mention that you will be required to pay maintenance fees at different intervals throughout this 20 year period.
Translation software services are the perfect way to get by on a day-to-day basis with lightweight content. Collaborating with a trustworthy language consultancy, such as EHLION that specialises in over 100 languages, will remove the stress and potential ambiguity. Each member state adheres to a different jurisdiction, making it a complicated task without the exact expertise. Therefore, it’s paramount to employ a native in the corresponding country, who is familiar with the law. The advancements in machine translation software have a promising future, but they are still behind in replicating the human element in the vernacular sphere of communication. Any minor language discrepancy found by the receiving office could negatively implicate the status of your PCT application. This lapse in time subsequently impacts the future valuability of your intellectual property. EHLION provide adept services to cover all your bases in the following areas required:
- Consult with a reliable and proficient language provider. According to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, all PCT applications are required to be submitted in the corresponding language of each member state. Additionally, the local language of the initial filed PCT application in the member state should be included too. For example, a British national submitting a PCT application in France is required to submit both the English language PCT application, as well as a PCT application in French. Furthermore, a British national submitting another PCT application in China, is required to submit the PCT application in Mandarin and English.
- Submitting a PCT application to safeguard your intellectual property requires the full disclosure of how and why it qualifies for a patent. Accurate technical documentation is required to comprehensively outline the fundamental elements – What, why, how? etc.,
- Legal terminology is a language in itself. The room for error is another potential, but avoidable risk. Get in touch with EHLION for all your professional legal advice to make the process as smooth as possible!
How Much Does an International Patent Cost?
There are four fees associated with filing an international patent (PCT application). All 2020 PCT application fees are applicable to the specific member state and the corresponding local currency that are payable to the receiving Office. Depending on your member state, you could qualify for a 90% reduction in PCT application fees. The breakdown of fees include the following facets affiliated with the PCT application:
- Transmittal and international filing fees (subject to the receiving Office)
- International search report fees
- Supplementary search fees
- Preliminary examination fees
For example, in Germany the general PCT application fees are as follows:
- Transmittal fee – 90 Euro,
- International filing fee – 1217 Euro (each page over 30 pages is a supplement of 14 Euro each).
- Search fee – 1775 Euro
You can find more information about the fees for each individual member state here.
What are the next steps?
As outlined above, it’s no secret that filing your PCT application is an intricate process. Inevitably there was blood, sweat and tears that went into making your intellectual property a success, deeming it patentable. Sit back, relax and leave the next step in the hands of our experts. EHLION is a professional organisation on a mission to secure international patent protection for your intellectual property.