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15 February 2021
Due to the growing interdependence of the global economy and population, a company's market is no longer limited to the countries in which it is based. Rather, it may have a global impact.
Companies therefore need to be able to protect their inventions internationally. There is no such thing as an international patent, as patents are restricted to a specific territory and no single patent confers protection for inventions globally. Patent law is specific to each country; although regional agreements exist, there is no global patent law.
However, an international patent application does exist. Filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international patent application aims to facilitate the procedures for protecting inventions in multiple countries in a cost-effective and insightful way.
An applicant need file only one international patent application under the PCT system to seek protection in all 153 PCT member states.
At the end of the 'international phase' (generally 30 to 31 months after the filling of the first patent application), the international patent application is converted into a bundle of national or regional patent applications, depending on the applicant's preference, which are then examined by national or regional patent offices.
The PCT system enables applicants to postpone the selection of the countries in which they wish to protect their inventions to the end of the international phase. While it is advisable to seek protection at an early stage of an invention's development, the value of the invention on a global scale at this stage may still be unexplored. The time afforded by the international phase enables applicants to develop their international business strategy worldwide and to evaluate their market targets.
The PCT system also enables applicants to gather valuable information on the patentability of their inventions without incurring substantial national or regional filing fees.
For further information on this topic please contact Antoine Herbaut or Ingrid Luyten at GEVERS by telephone (+32 2 715 3711) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). The GEVERS website can be accessed at www.gevers.eu.
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