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Ken Targett

Hampshire, United Kingdom




British Patents
Foreign patents
European patents
International patents

Foreign patent protection

All major countries of the world have their own patent systems, and it is necessary to obtain a patent in each country in which protection is required. 

The patent law of most countries is roughly similar to British patent law, including the requirement for novelty and inventive step having regard to everything known before the priority date of the invention. However, so that there is no need to file any required foreign applications before an applicant makes an invention public, most countries belong to an international convention under which it is possible to claim the date of a British application as a priority date, provided that the foreign application is filed within one year after the British application. Therefore, once the British application is filed, the applicant can publicly test the market for the invention and can assess the results of the British official search before needing to make a decision about foreign protection.

Generally, foreign patent protection is more expensive that British protection because foreign official fees are generally higher than British official fees, because in most countries there is a requirement to use a local patent attorney, and because of the need for translation in non-English speaking countries. 

If protection in several countries around Europe is required, it is usually more cost-effective to file a European patent application.

If more time is required before deciding in which countries to seek protection, an international application can be filed.