A patent is a territorial right and, therefore, can be applied for nationally, or in a greater international context. The best choice in this will depend on the field of the inventions, your ambitions and the available financial means. DOGIO Patents can assist you in obtaining protection over your invention in the countries where you wish to do so. Additionally, we are happy to advise you on what can be the most successful operation strategy for your company.
A national patent offers protection over the invention within the country it is applied for and is granted by a national patent agency. In the Netherlands this is, for example, the Netherlands Patent Agency (Octrooicentrum Nederland). The granting procedure in each country can vary and it is important to be aware of this before you apply for a patent. For example, the procedure might entail an assessment of novelty and industrial applicability of the invention. In the Netherlands, after submission of a national patent application, you have 12 months to additionally apply for a patent on the same invention in other countries. Effectively, this system provides you with 12 months to develop a further strategy.
However, keep in mind that patent law is different all over the world, and that these examples might not apply everywhere. Please contact us for specific information on a particular country.
A European patent is applied for at the European Patent Office, assessed and potentially granted there. After the patent is granted it is up to you, or with the advice of DOGIO Patents, to determine in which European member states the patent is to be validated. Costs are made with the validation, and also with the eventual maintenance, of the patent in each country. The invention is protected in every country in which the patent is validated. Just as with the Dutch patent, the European patent also offers the possibility to, up to 12 months after application, apply for a patent for the same invention in additional countries.
The European patent system is about to be changed through the introduction of the unitary patent. The current system requires validation of a patent in individual member states, but the new system creates the opportunity to validate a patent in one go in all member states, which would be regulated and maintained through a central legal system. This option has advantages and disadvantages when it comes to costs, efficiency and protection of the patent. Read more about the unitary patent here.
An international application, often indicated by the term PCT-application, does not lead to an international patent or a global patent. Simply put, it is a centralized system. After the international application is filed, the applicant has 30 months to decide in which countries of the PCT system protection of the invention is needed. This is done through entering the national phase of each of these countries.
In the PCT system, an opinion about the patentability of the invention is provided to the applicant. This, in combination with the period of 30 months mentioned above, is enough to let the applicant determine whether it is useful for him to continue the international application into the national phase. Continuation can be in the form of an American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian and/or European patent application.
The choice to apply for a national patent, a European patent, or an international application can have great consequences on the further development of your company and the use of the patent. For more information and personalized advice, please contact us.