A patent is an intellectual property that grants patent owners exclusive rights over their inventions for a limited period in exchange for public disclosure of the invention patent. Obtaining a patent will prevent others from making or selling what you invented, but a United States patent won’t protect your inventions internationally. Read on below to learn about patent protection in the US, and how a PCT patent can help protect your intellectual property internationally.

How Patent Protection Works

In the United States, applying for a patent grants applicants exclusive rights to their invention. To get a patent, you need to file a patent application to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The following are the three types of patents issued by the patent and trademark office, with the utility patent being the most common.

  • Utility patents for inventions that are considered functional, such as a process, the machine, composition of matter, or an improvement to an existing idea.
  • Design patents for creative works that are expressive and ornamental but not functional, such as product design.
  • Plant patents for applicants who discover or invent a new variety of asexually reproducible plants.

The patent process will be different for a utility, plant, and design patent application, so make sure to speak with a patent lawyer to determine which type of provisional patent application you should file. US Patents have a validity of up to 20 years from the filing date. This means that if anyone infringes your rights before the patent expiration, you’re allowed to sue them for patent-infringement and receive compensation.

How to Protect Your Patent Internationally

PCT PatentWhile a US patent will prevent anyone from manufacturing, using, or selling your invention in the US, your patent protection doesn’t extend to other countries. As such, you won’t be able to stop someone from creating unauthorized copies in a different country, and even importing it to the United States even if you are the US patent holder.

Every country has a different system of patent registration and enforcement, which is why there is no single international patent application you can file to protect your intellectual property everywhere. However, there are treaties and certain mechanisms that make the patent application process easier for inventors who want to secure protection internationally. Application for a patent is much easier for an inventor, with the help of a registered patent attorney. An experienced patent lawyer will know all about patent law including copyright and trademarks, even in foreign countries, and will make sure that you comply with all requirements. 

Patent Cooperation Treaty

The United States along with several countries are signatories of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This treaty allows you to file a PCT patent application within a year of filing a patent application in the US. You’ll still need to file individual applications for each country, but the cooperation treaty makes it easier to get a patent for your invention.

There are two main reasons why you should have a PCT application when you file a patent:

  • Your filing date can be used for your patent applications in member countries.
  • All PCT members conduct an initial patent search on an international patent database.

Since your US filing date can be used as the priority date for your international patent, this helps establish who will receive patent rights for an invention in case there are ownership disputes.

Patent searching conducted by PCT members also adds another layer of protection both by improving the patent examination for patent filings and preventing creators from investing in a patent filing that isn’t patentable.

Hire a Patent Attorney

Seeking international intellectual property protection can be costly and time-consuming, even more so when you’ve provided incomplete patent information on your application form, or if you’re unnecessarily filing patents internationally when it might not be the best move.

Patenting your inventions or your work need not be so stressful. At War IP Law PLLC, our experienced patent attorneys can help you obtain your intellectual property rights and protect your inventions from infringement. What are you waiting for? Call us and take control of your intellectual property today!