Patents are territorial, which means they must be filed in each country. This makes them more difficult to enforce in other countries and, of course, cost more. But what about China and other emerging economies? How are they viewed in the US? Here are some of the main issues. In the United States, disclosure requirements are generally the strictest, and China has some of the most aggressive intellectual property laws. But how do they compare? What should you do if you’re wondering which country’s patent laws are the most strict?

What is a patent

Patents are an exclusive right granted to an invention or a design. This is a product, process, or method that is new, unique or improves on an existing solution. It ca either be a design or a utility patent. In order to obtain a patent, the public must have access to technical information regarding the invention in a patent application.

The patent owner has exclusive rights hence he/she is the only person who can prevent others from commercially exploiting his patented invention. Patent protection simply means that the invention can’t be used commercially, copied, distributed, imported, or sold without the consent of the patent owner.

Patent protection is granted for a limited period of time, usually 20 years after the date of filing the application. The protection is exclusive as no one can use or sell your invention without your authority from the day of filing your application. The 20 year protection on patents does not apply to medicinal products and plant protection in Germany.

Patents not only recognize and reward inventors who have commercially successful technology, but also inform the world about inventions. The inventor must explain how their invention works in a detailed and elaborate manner in order to obtain patent protection. The amount of technical information that is available to the public increases with every patent granted.

This and other intellectual property related information is freely accessible by the public via WIPO’s global databases. WIPO is the World Intellectual Property Organization under the United Nations tasked with global promotion and protection of industrial property such as patents, trademarks and copyright. PATENTSCOPE is the largest and most comprehensive of all these databases. This database contains more than 50 million patent applications, which can be searched for free. This information is made freely available to stimulate new ideas, promote innovation, and help reduce the knowledge gap between developing and less developed countries.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is idea-gf43301481_1280-1024x721.jpg

is a patent valid in every country?

Patents are territorial by nature. In other words, a patent granted in one country will not protect your invention in any other country. This is due to the fact that each country has its own laws governing patentability. While the U.S. patent law allows inventors a grace period before filing an application for a patent, many other countries do not offer such a grace period and require you to file for a patent application before you begin to sell your invention. This is amongst the challenges on there not been a common law on global patent protection.

Although courts have historically preferred to understand patents as territorial rights, this distinction is not set in stone. The patent system is based on national borders. Therefore, patent holders wishing to enjoy protection in more than one country must obtain multiple national rights. This approach has often resulted in cases where the infringing activity is not in line with national borders. Furthermore, the subject matter of patents is becoming more common in cross-border dissemination.

In addition to national laws, patents are also governed by international treaties. Countries that have ratified international patent treaties are able to offer international protections to their citizens. The Patent Office is responsible for the operation of the national patent system, from granting patents to monitoring infringement. Patent Infringements are a recurrent problem for patent holders, and there are no universal solutions. The key is to choose a system that suits you. There are several ways to do this.

To start with, considering the territorial nature of patents, you should seek protection in countries where your invention may be manufactured or marketed. When deciding which countries to file in, keep in mind that patents are costly and time-consuming. Therefore, you should weigh the costs and anticipated revenue from each country before deciding on a patent strategy. Remember, your best bet is to file locally and in the US, and then move onto the EPO or PCT.;- European Patent Organization or the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Multi-country filing is also expensive and time-consuming. Consequently, you should file a pathfinder application in one country. This will help you explore in regions that re yet to be explored by others with regards to your patent.

They must be filed in each country

While patents must be filed in each country, the United States and China both have strict disclosure requirements. While the United States has traditionally interpreted a patent’s subject matter most broadly, the United States Supreme Court has taken alarming steps in the wrong direction over the last decade. If you’re wondering where to start filing for a patent, here is a helpful link on introduction to patent filing.

One of the best ways to minimize translation costs is to file your patent application through the PCT. This way, you can defer translation costs until the national stage in each country. However, this will mean that you’ll have to pay for translations in each country, and you’ll also have to pay filing fees in each one. Ultimately, a PCT application can save you a substantial amount of money in the long run.

In addition to filing patent applications in each country, you can also file for international patents. By filing an international application through the World Intellectual Property Office, you’ll be protected in more than 150 countries. Countries that don’t belong to the PCT are Bolivia, Congo, Guyana, Iraq, Somalia, Venezuela, and Uruguay. Sadly, some countries in the Middle East don’t even have a PCT, so you’ll have to file for patent protection in them separately.

They cannot be enforced in other countries

Although a U.S. patent can be applied for in almost any country, a foreign patent can be difficult to enforce unless the inventor applies for a patent in the country where the invention is developed. Even then, actions taken outside of the U.S. could constitute infringement of the patent. To avoid potential issues, the inventor should get patents in every country in which he or she intends to sell the product. If this is not an option, a patent attorney should be consulted.

Several international treaties were created in an effort to simplify and improve the patent applications process for inventors. These treaties include:

  • The Patent Cooperation Treaty
  • The European Patent Convention
  • Convention of Paris

There are some countries that do not apply the Paris Convention provisions. One notable country in this category is Cape Verde, whose national IP code recognizes priority rights. Countries not bound by the Paris Convention must comply with article 2 of the TRIPS agreement (WTO) and the Patent Office’s website contains a list of non-Paris Convention countries. Applicants must follow the rules of each country in order to file their patents.

They cost more to enforce

Unlike domestic patents, international patents are more difficult to enforce than their domestic counterparts. While the US is the bargain of patents, a European patent can cost as much as ten times more. In addition to the cost of international filing, patents worldwide incur annual annuities, which can run into the thousands of dollars per country. The PCT covers 190 countries, and the lifetime cost of a “worldwide” patent can easily exceed tens of millions of dollars.

One of the primary costs associated with enforcing a patent is maintenance fees. The maintenance fees can total as much as 75 percent of the total estimated costs of a patent over its lifetime. However, around 20 countries offer discounted maintenance fees to applicants who declare their intent to license a patent. These countries include Belarus, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Spain, Russian Federation, and Ukraine.

The cost of patent protection has skyrocketed in recent years. From $6,000 to $10,000 in the mid-’90s, many firms charge upwards of $30,000. Additionally, foreign filing costs several hundred thousand dollars.

Translation costs are another common cause of patents costing more to enforce. Translating patent applications into several languages is an expensive and time-consuming process. Translation costs can run from USD 3,000 to USD 6,500. On average, these costs are between 75 to 80 percent of total patent filing expenses. In some countries, the translation costs represent a significant portion of the total cost. This is why international patents are so expensive.

What Inventions are Protected by a patent

Patent protection can be granted to an invention, product, or process that brings about a new technical solution.

A patent doesn’t protect an idea but a specific solution for a technical problem. Patent protection requires that the invention must be in any technology field.

  • new, which means: It must not be made available to the public in any manner, anywhere in the world before a protection application can be filed.
  • inventive step is required, i.e. It must not be derived from the state-of-the art in a way that is obvious to someone skilled in the art;
  • Industrially Applicable. Practically (not only theoretically) applicable, i.e., suitable for production or use within the industrial scope.

International Patent Application Process

The PCT process has the appeal of allowing patent applicants to file one patent application and having that uniform patent application treated as an original application for a patent in any Member Country. However, international patent protection can be expensive. You should also understand that an international patent application will not be granted once it is filed. There are stages that the application must go through.

The first phase starts with the international filing. The second phase starts when you enter into the national stage in any number countries. This allows for evaluation according to the country’s patent laws. There is an international and a local phase that are both relevant to the PCT process.

After the application has been filed, a PCT governmental search office will conduct a patent search. After the search is complete, the applicant can choose to proceed to Chapter II of the process. This is where a PCT government office reviews the patentability of the application in accordance with the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The applicant will eventually be required to officially enter the PCT application into each country’s national patent office. The international application will be treated as a patent application in all of those Member Countries that have ratified the PCT.

Granting procedure

You must file a PCT request and pay a set fee (which includes fees for filing and executing a search). Your application can be filed with either our office, the European Patent Office, or the WIPO. A subsequent international novelty search will be conducted by an International Search Authority (ISA) such as the European Patent Office.

After 18 months have lapsed since the original filing date, the WIPO publishes your application as soon as possible. A provisional examination may be requested. This is often possible due to documents that can be resubmitted with improvements.

The results of the novelty research and any assessment are then sent to either the national patent-granting agency or the European Patent Office. These authorities can complete the process and grant a patent. The PCT procedure is termed complete (i.e. You will then move to the national or regional phase. The next step is to decide which countries you want to establish patent rights.


Companies must be able to protect their inventions worldwide. International patents do not exist. Patents are limited to one territory, and only one patent can confer protection for inventions worldwide. Patent law is unique to each country. Although regional agreements exist, there does not exist a global patent law.

However, an international patent application is possible. An international patent application is filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, (PCT). It aims to make it easier for inventions to be protected in multiple countries cost-effectively and in an insightful manner.

To seek protection in all 153 member states of the PCT, an applicant must only file one international patent application under PCT. The Patent Co-operation Treaty deals with the application process which though costly , offers your patent world wide protection.