Patent protection abroad

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Patent protection in countries outside of Denmark may be obtained in several different ways. Apart from filing individual applications in each country of interest, European or international patent applications may be filed.

International patent application (PCT-application)

To date, 156 countries have joined the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). An international application filed under the PCT is equivalent to a national filing in these countries within 30/31 months from the date of priority. Prior to expiry of this time limit, the applicant needs to decide on the countries for which protection is sought. There are several advantages to filing an international PCT-application. Within the first 30/31 months there is at least one opportunity to amend the application. More importantly, the decision on the countries of interest is postponed while retaining all options and rights. The same applies to the associated costs.

European patent application (EP-application)

For seeking patent protection in Europe the most straightforward way is to file a European patent application. At present, the European Patent Organisation has 34 member states, including Denmark.

The overall goal of the European Patent Convention (EPC) is to centralize and reduce costs of issuing patents in Europe. On the basis of a single application patents may be granted in each of the member states.

The European Patent Office (EPO) will carry out a database search and evaluate the patentability of the invention disclosed in the European patent application. On the basis of this examination it may grant a European patent. Within a 3-month period following the grant, the European patent has to be validated in the desired national states. The term validation refers to the European patent being translated and filed in the desired national states.

National Patent Application

Another route to a patent is the direct filing of an application with the national authorities of the country for which protection is sought. Before filing the patent application, it usually has to be translated to the language of the country in question.

Both the international (PCT) and the European route allow for collective proceedings covering a wide range of countries. Therefore, national patent applications are usually advisable only if protection is sought in very few countries, or if countries are targeted that are not party to the above-described agreements.