A new invention can be rapidly exploited in many territories in today’s well-connected world.
As a national patent has effect in just one state, astute innovators fit together many “pieces” to complete their international patent portfolio. But obtaining patent protection in multiple territories can be complex and expensive: translating documents increases costs, while country-specific legal and procedural requirements demand local knowledge.
Is there a short cut?
There are simpler, cost-effective routes to patent protection in multiple countries. A unified International Application (PCT Application) may ultimately lead to national patents in up to 152 states around the world while deferring most of the costs by 2.5 years.
A bundle of national patents in up to 42 countries can be obtained by grant of a European Patent Application, which is examined centrally by the European Patent Office (EPO) to avoid separate national examination proceedings in each country. The EPO is consistently ranked as the best for quality and service among the world’s largest patent offices.
That sounds useful!
Many agree – year-on-year PCT Applications have increased by 7.3% in 2016, the fastest growth since 2011, as reported in the recent PCT Yearly Review 2017. Our experience suggests this upsurge is set to continue: in the first half of 2017, our PCT Application filings were up a staggering 52% compared to the same period in 2016. Bumper growth in 2016 builds on a history of gains – the overall number of PCT Applications increased by 28% in the last 5 years (2011-2016). Indeed, the number of PCT Applications has grown every year except 2009 since the system began in 1978. Likewise, EPO statistics show that, despite a slight dip in 2016, the number of European Patent Application has also risen by more than 11% overall in the last 5 years (2011-2016).
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What does this mean for me?
Don’t give away your monopoly in crucial territories!
In a global market, patent protection in just one or two countries could allow competitors copy your innovation elsewhere, bypassing your rights. To prevent this, you can protect your invention in key countries via the PCT and European Patent systems.