How do I apply for a patent in other countries?
There is no such thing as a 'worldwide' patent.
A patent is granted by a government of a country. The Australian Government, for example, does not have power to grant a patent that would apply in the United States. Nor does the United States Government have the power to grant a patent that would apply in Australia.
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Sometimes the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is thought of as conferring a 'worldwide' patent. The PCT, however, deals only with the application process.
Before the PCT, it was necessary to file separately in each country where the patent was sought. This was expensive to do, and forced applicants to decide - sometimes prematurely - in which countries they should seek patents.
The objectives of the PCT were to address these 2 problems by:
- deeming a PCT application in one treaty member country to be filed in all treaty member countries at the same time
- allowing an applicant a period of up to 21 or 31 months from the earliest priority date to decide in which countries to proceed to apply for a patent (called 'national phase').
Applying for a patent in other countries
There are 2 ways of applying for a patent in other countries:
- You may file a separate complete application in each country in which you decide to pursue the grant of a patent.
- You may file a PCT application, and in due course nominate those countries in which you want to proceed to national phase.
It is not mandatory to file a PCT application.
You can file the application online at IP Australia's website or download a paper application from that site. You can also engage a patent attorney to file the application for you.
You might consider filing a complete application in each relevant country, and forgo the PCT application step, for example, where:
- you decide to pursue patents in a small number of countries only
- some of the countries where you want to pursue a patent are not members of the PCT (some South American, Central American, African, and Middle Eastern countries).
Patent application process in other countries
In practice, you would consider applying for a patent in those countries where you anticipate:
- selling the products or services protected by the patent
- exporting the products or services protected by the patent
- licensing the products or services protected by the patent.
The patent application process in other countries is much the same as in Australia: the application is examined to ensure that the requirements for a patent are met, third parties may oppose or object to the grant of a patent, and when the application is successful, the patent is granted.
Additional costs may be incurred for:
- fees charged by the individual national patent offices
- the fee for retaining a patent attorney /lawyer in the individual jurisdictions
- a certified translation of the patent specification required in some non-English speaking countries.
- Last reviewed: 28 Sep 2020
- Last updated: 1 Aug 2019