Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a strictly international patent which protects your idea all over the world. Instead, protecting your idea globally must be done in stages. Lodging a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) international application with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) is the beginning of the international phase of the process of obtaining patent protection. Usually, a PCT international patent application is lodged within 12 months of the filing of a provisional application. Your PCT international patent application will establish a filing date in about 140 countries which are signatories to the treaty.
Your PCT international patent application lasts up to 30-31 months from the priority date before it lapses. To obtain patent protection in each country of interest, complete applications, known as national phase applications, must be filed in each individual country prior to the respective deadlines. The advantage of filing a PCT international patent application is that it delays the deadline for (and thus lowers the cost of) filing individual complete applications for up to 18 months after the expiry of the provisional patent application (if that was the route taken).
What about countries that are not part of the PCT?
Most industrialised countries are party to the PCT, with a few exceptions (e.g. Argentina, Taiwan, Pakistan, Uruguay and Venezuela). If you are seeking to protect your idea in countries which are not party to the PCT, you will have to file individual complete patent applications in each of those countries you so choose. You can also take this avenue for countries within the PCT if you choose not to file a PCT international patent application. However, the costs of filing with this option can be quite significant if many countries are selected. Because most inventors and small companies are not in a financial position to afford the filing costs so early on, starting with a PCT international patent application is a common route for the complete application process.
Links to Helpful Sites
- IP Australia — the Australian Government agency responsible for administering patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights.
- AusPat — a database and search engine for Australian patents.
- WIPO — World Intellectual Property Organisation.
- Patent Attorney Directory — up-to-date information about the main patent attorney firms operating in Australia
- Patent Search Online — service for discovering whether your idea is patentable
- Baxter IP, Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys Sydney & Melbourne — information about international patents.
- Baxter IP — the international website of Baxter IP, Patent & Trade Mark Attorneys.
Important Disclaimer: The information on this website is not legal or professional advice. The information may:
- not be correct;
- only relate to the law or practice in a given country; and/or
- be outdated.
For more information, please contact the Site Administrator: Baxter IP.