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