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Pablo Meles, Of Counsel, Espinosa Martinez Pablo Meles, Of Counsel, Espinosa Martinez

An “international patent” is a fiction that currently fails to exist. In other words, there is no single world organization that will provide patent rights to all countries with a single application. Instead, the closest notion to the idealization of an international patent is an international patent application via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) available to residents or nationals of all member countries or contracting states subscribing to the PCT. A PCT international patent application does not provide any rights, rather the PCT application must be followed with a “national” application claiming priority to a priority application.  A priority application is a first filing of an application for a particular invention. The priority application provides a “priority date” that can be used to claim priority in foreign jurisdictions. Note that a U.S. provisional application, a U.S. nonprovisional application, or even a PCT application itself can serve as the priority application.

Why then bother with a PCT application? If your ambitions for protection go beyond the United States, an “international patent application” via the PCT provides a streamlined mechanism for efficiently obtaining a single search and a single examination that will be recognized by member countries. It is difficult to grasp the benefits of the PCT, without knowing a little bit about the alternative of foreign filing without the PCT relying on the Paris Convention or World Trade Organization.

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