So, anybody wishing to obtain patent protection in multiple markets will necessarily need to pursue some form of application in each corresponding jurisdiction. With every country having its own patent laws (and this is true even in places, such as Europe, where some form of regional process is available), obtaining all of these patents can certainly become a complex, time-consuming, and expensive procedure.
Fortunately, however, over the years a majority of countries have got together to establish some basic standards, agreements and conventions that provide at least some certainty and simplification for inventors and companies seeking protection for their inventions in multiple jurisdictions. In this article I want to talk briefly about the three I regard as being the most significant:
- the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which ensures that all members will recognise the priority of an application filed in another member country for at least 12 months;
- the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which creates a central mechanism for filing an ‘international application’ that can delay the costs and complexity of individual national/regional filings for at least 18 months longer than would otherwise be possible; and
- the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which sets minimum standards for patentability, guarantees non-discriminatory treatment of applicants and applications, and sets limits on the scope of national laws to exclude specific subject matter from patent-eligibility.