Do you sell products in multiple countries? How are you assuring your intellectual property is protected? Do you know about “Foreign Patent Applications” or “PCT’s”? If not, you may not be adequately protecting your intellectual property abroad!
When you sell your product in multiple countries you are vulnerable to other companies stealing your idea and reproducing your intellectual property as their own.
How do you protect yourself?
To protect your business from being taken advantage of you may consider filing a foreign patent application. You may ask, what’s a foreign patent application? It’s a request at a foreign patent office for the grant of a patent for the invention described and claimed by that application. An application typically consists of a description of the invention, together with official forms and correspondence relating to the application.
Foreign patent protection will prevent others from profiting from your idea abroad. Many countries allow you to claim priority from your U.S. application. For utility patents you can file with priority status within one year of your original filing date in the U.S. under the Paris Convention, or six months from your original filing date for design patent applications. A utility patent protects the functional aspects of an invention and can provide broad patent protection, making it difficult for a competing product to avoid patent infringement. A design patent will protect the appearance of a new product as long as it is the main feature.
Another option you have is to file a PCT (“Patent Cooperation Treaty”) patent application for up to two and a half years from the initial filing date of your U.S. patent application. The PCT must be filed within a year of your first filed priority application to keep your priority date or before your U.S. application is published. The benefit to filing a PCT patent application is it allows you additional time to file in the specific countries of your choice. In some cases, the results of the search report issued for the PCT may be used to speed up prosecution in individual foreign countries and result in lower prosecution costs using the PCT Patent Prosecution Highway Petition.
Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. is proud to announce we have merged with Litman Law and are now offering a full range of intellectual property services, including patent and trademark services, to our valued clients. To learn more about protecting your brand internationally, please contact us.