U.S. vs. International Patent Applications

Wouldn't it make a lot of sense if there were a single patent process that provided world-wide protection? Unfortunately, there still isn't.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is pursuing the worthy goal of creating a universal world-wide patent process, but there is a long way to go.  Currently, there is no such thing as an international patent.  What we call an international patent application is a single recognized standard for a preliminary patent filing that can facilitate later patent filings in participating nations.  Participating nations will recognize the priority of that application for one year, within which time an application must be filed in each country in which protection is sought.  The right to file is thereafter forfeited in any country not receiving an application.  This process is very expensive as there is an initial fee at the time of filing the international application, and filing fees must be paid thereafter to each nation in which the patent is filed.

Filing a US patent application is much less costly and provides exactly the same one-year priority in participating nations as the internaltion patent application.  Additionally, unlike the international patent application, which provides no long-term protection, the US patent application process will result in the award of a patent in the single largest world marketplace (the US) even if no additional action is taken (provided the invention is, in fact, patentable).

It is probable that some day the WIPO will succeed in creating a single unified patent process (Godspeed to them).  In the meantime, a US patent application is the best, most cost effective way to start.

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