Inventors love to dream big. When they come up with inventions they deem worthy of patenting, they often dream of seeing those inventions in various iterations around the world, not just around their community. But, as you might have realized, protecting your intellectual property — whether it be an invention or a creative endeavor like a book or a song — involves no small amount of legal work. International rights are another matter entirely. Curious about how your IP rights will hold up in other countries? Here’s what you need to know:
Protecting Your Patents and Trademarks Overseas
Any patents or trademarks granted by the USPTO only apply to the United States. If you want your invention to be protected in other countries, you’ll have to apply for a patent in each other country where you want protection. That same rule applies to trademarks. If you want your brand to go global, you will have to apply for trademarks in all of the countries where you might use your brand. However, there are exceptions to this that we will address later.
Copyright Laws Overseas
Copyright laws can be trickier. Regardless of the country where your copyright originates, it is subject to the copyright laws of the country wherein the protection is needed. For instance, let’s say you’ve copyrighted a song in the United States and you have found that someone in Germany has plagiarized that song. Your copyright protection would be subject to copyright laws of Germany, whereas if a British author’s book was plagiarized in the United States, their copyright protection would be subject to US copyright laws.
No Foreign Patent Applications Can Be Filed Prior To Receipt of a Foreign Filing License From the USPTO
If you do not obtain a foreign filing license from the USPTO prior to filing foreign patent applications, then you are jeopardizing all of your U.S. patent rights. Once a foreign filing license issues, you can file applications abroad. If you file foreign applications without first obtaining a foreign filing license, then all of your related US patents will become unenforceable.
Foreign Patent Filings Require Absolute Novelty
With the exception of Canada, foreign patent applications require complete novelty. That is, if you sell, offer for sell, or publicly disclose your invention prior to filing a US patent application to which your foreign application can claim priority, you will not be able to file foreign patent applications. If foreign patent rights are desired, it will be necessary to file foreign patent applications within one year of the earliest filing date for this invention, provided that you did not disclose, sell, offer to sell, or advertise your invention prior to your earliest filing date.
Foreign Patent Filings
If foreign patent rights are desired, it will be necessary to file foreign patent applications within one year of the earliest filing date for this invention, provided that you did not disclose, sell, offer to sell, or advertise your invention prior to your earliest filing date. The earliest date is the earlier of this application’s filing date or the filing date of any application to which this application claims priority (such as a provisional patent application). Patent rights will be lost in other countries if applications are not filed in the foreign patent offices within one year of the earliest filing date of an application for this invention.
If you are uncertain as to whether foreign applications are desired or in which countries foreign applications are to be pursued, filing a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application can preserve your rights to pursue foreign patents for this invention in certain countries for up to an additional 18 months for a total of 30 months from your earliest filing date. Several potentially important countries including Taiwan, Argentina, Chile, as well as many African and Middle Eastern countries are not PCT members; accordingly, patents in those countries cannot be pursued through a PCT application.
It’s important to be sure that your IP is protected in every country that you’d like to reach with your new invention, creation, or brand. For that, it’s essential to have an IP law expert at your side, which is what you’ll find with Garcia Zamor. Contact us today to learn more about your international IP rights or to check out our flat fee litigation plan.