International Patenting with the PCTThe Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) offers a cost effective way for the individual inventor to get protection in 137 countries.
If you wish to extend your patent out to countries outside of Europe and you are looking to file in more than 1 or 2 other countries then the best way is likely to be an international application via the PCT. You can choose to designate any, or all, of the 137 member states. The UK is a member and so you can use your UK priority date when you file with the PCT and then continue your application with the PCT and not worry about your UK application. Some people choose to continue their UK application alongside their PCT application. It is best to take professional advice on this from a CIPA registered Patent Agent or at least speak directly the the UK IPO once your application has been filed. Your application to the PCT should be filed within 12 months of your filing date. This 12 month period is known as the 12-month international convention period where your priority date of filing is protected.
Taiwan is the most notable adsentee from the PCT. Therefore if you wish to file in Taiwan you will have to put a national application in to their patent office. You will need a Taiwanese Patent Agent and your patent application will have to be translated. Most UK patent agents will have reputable patent agent partners in foreign countries, like Taiwan. The translation and filing might take a few months to prepare and you need to have filed before the 12 international convention period has expired. Therefore it is worth considering this about 8 -10 months atter your filing date.
The UK IPO forwards the application forms to the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) in Geneva, Switzerland. However the European Patent Office deals with most of the filing steps for UK applicants. The steps completed for your PCT application are broadly the same as the steps for a UK patent application and you will get a filing receipt with patent filing number and filing date.
PCT applications cost £1800 initially and then £1100 for the preliminary examination. However this is substantially less than filing directly with the individual member countries. Patent Attorney fees will be on top of this if you are using one. The PCT does not directly grant patents. 31 months from the priority date the applicant must enter a national phase.
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