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International Applications

Jim Ruttler, Patent Attorney

Posted Monday, July 21, 2008 by Jim Ruttler

Unfortunately, patents must be obtained in every foreign country where protection is desired. Thus, a United States patent will only protect against infringement in the United States; although, it does also protect against importation of infringing articles into the United States.

Because almost all foreign countries are based on a first-to-file system and prevent filing after any public disclosure, it would seem necessary to simultaneously file a patent application in every foreign country where protection was desired before any disclosures were made. However, such simultaneous filing would be extremely difficult logistically and would involve significant expenses at a time when the marketability of an invention is likely to be questionable at best.

Fortunately, it is possible to achieve simultaneous filing without actually doing so by filing an international PCT application within one year of the earliest filed United States patent application. Thus, if a provisional application were filed on August 1, 2007, it would be necessary to file an international PCT application by August 1, 2008. It would then be necessary to file one or more foreign patent applications with specific foreign patent offices within thirty months of the earliest filed United States patent application, in this case 30 months from August 1, 2007 or February 1, 2010. By adhering to this procedure, the foreign patent applications are then treated as if they were filed on August 1, 2007.

Accordingly, use of an international PCT application delays the time for filing patent applications in foreign countries, but makes it possible for those later filed foreign applications to be treated as if they were filed up to 30 months earlier. This time can be used to test the marketability of an invention before wastefully expending resources.

Ruttler Mills PLLC
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