PCT - International Patent Overview

Our International Patent Experience

With over 10 years of experience filing and overseeing international patents. Having lived and worked internationally, Jeff Williams has the experience and understanding needed to effectively manage your international patent needs.

Global Markets

With today’s global industries and markets, domestic patent coverage in the U.S. is not usually sufficient.  Foreign patent protection can be an essential part of any intellectual property strategy. How does the international patent application process work?

Patents may be filed internationally directly with the foreign country as a foreign application or filed internationally with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as an international application.  Signatory countries to the Paris Convention Treaty are participants in the international patent process with WIPO.  The naming can lead to some confusion.  In general, remember that foreign applications are filed in a particular foreign country.  An international application is filed with WIPO.

When to file internationally?

A common way to gain international protection is by filing the invention first as an international patent application (PCT), see Option 1 below. The PCT grants you the ability to hold off on making a determination of which foreign country to file in for 30-31 months. It preliminarily holds your right to file in over 140 different foreign countries. One of those countries is the U.S. so coverage domestically can be obtained after filing the PCT application.

Another way is to file domestically first and then filing the PCT application. As seen below in Option 2, the filing of a priority application first affects the timelines, but a total of 30-31 months is still granted to make the determination which foreign country to file in.

The overall goal of the international application is to grant a filer the flexibility and time to make the determination of which foreign country to enter.  A single international patent is not granted.  Each foreign application will be examined according to its national laws before issuing.  There are many benefits of PCT international applications, including: cost savings, time benefits, and simplified foreign filing.