How Much Does an International Patent Cost?

So, how much does an international patent cost? The answer to this varies. An international patent is a right granted to the inventor that excludes others from selling, using, or copying the invention. The international patent, while not truly international in nature as it does not protect the inventor from unauthorized use on a national level, carries protection for the inventor across several countries, so long as those countries participate in the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). 

Costs for Obtaining Protection Internationally

Charges can be rather costly. A PCT application can range from $3,000 to $4,500 depending on the size of the entity seeking patent protection, as well as the invention itself. Additional fees include a transmittal fee (around $240), search fee (roughly $2,000), and international fee (roughly $1,100).

Keep in mind some additional factors:

  • The Europe Patent Office (EPO) will not act as an International Search Authority for applications with one or multiple claims to a single business method
  • The Australian Patent Office (APO) will also not serve such a function for those applications with one more claims drawn to mechanical engineering or specific technology inventions.
  • The Israeli Patent Office (ILPO) will also not act as an International Search Authority for more than 75 applications per fiscal quarter as well as applications with one or multiple claims per business method.

What Might the Costs Include?

  • Government fees: These are the costs that relate to application, prosecution, or filing fees that are paid to national or regional patent offices. These vary depending on country, so be sure to check.
  • Attorney fees: These fees are paid to patent attorneys/agents who assist in the prosecution of the patent application. These also vary from country to country.
  • Translation costs: These are only relevant to those who are seeking Intellectual Property protection in foreign countries, and who therefore need assistance with translating from a different language.
  • Maintenance fees: These are the costs of maintaining applications and patents and are usually paid on a regular schedule, for example, every year or every five years.

Enforcement of International Patents

The international patent application has the same protections and effect of a national patent application filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Patents are limited to a specific geographic region. If you wish to safeguard your invention in several countries, you can go the direct, Paris, or PCT route. The direct route simply means that you can file multiple patent applications simultaneously directly in every country where you want your invention to be protected by a patent. Alternatively, you can file in a Paris Convention country (a Member State that participates in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property). If you go down this route, you then have 12 months from the date of the initial patent application to file in other participating countries. Lastly, you can utilize the PCT application, as referenced in detail above.

Used by major corporations, universities, and even research facilities when seeking international patent protection, the PCT may also be used by smaller enterprises and sole inventors. It depends wholly on the type of invention you want to protect, and the level of protection you seek.

You can file with the World International Property Organization (WIPO), so long as your state’s national security laws permit you to do so, or with your nation’s patent office. You may also file with the International Bureau of the Receiving Office, e.g. if in the U.S., this would be the USPTO.

If you are living in a country that is a participant to the ARIPO Harare Protocol, Eurasian Patent Convention, European Patent Convention, or the OAPI Bangui Agreement, you can file with the regional patent office if allowed by applicable laws.

Note that obtaining patent protection in certain countries is incredibly difficult, including in China, India, Russia, Brazil, and South Africa.

Timeframe

The length of time will vary, but can take up to several years, depending on when you choose to turn your PCT application into an actual patent application within each country. So, for example, let’s say you input your PCT application on May 1 of a given year. You have up to 2 and half years (30 months) to decide which specific countries to apply to. If you make this choice in the 29th month, the process really won’t begin for you until then. If however, filing your PCT, and in the second month after filing, you know which countries you want to file for patent protection in, then the process begins for you at that point in time.

After you choose which countries to file for international protect protection in, you then have another 18 months before you will have to work with each specific patent office to complete the country’s requirements. The purpose of having this additional 18 months is for you to be able to better analyze your selling abilities in that country, and to see if you truly do need such protection in that country.

PCT International Search

The PCT international search is a search of the pertinent patent documentation and literature required for patent protection. All paperwork is pulled for each language in which those international patent documents are published, as referenced above.

While an international search is generally carried out in almost all international patent applications, there are certain times where a search cannot be completed. For instance, if the subject matter has no search requirements or if the description/drawing of the patent itself is not clear enough for a search to be carried out, then the application itself will state that a search was not conducted. There are also circumstances in which a partial search is conducted, particularly for those applications that attempt to put several inventions on only one application. In this case, since the applicant hasn’t paid the additional search fees, a search will not be conducted.

The search report itself will help determine whether or not your invention can be patented in each specific country. It will include references and literature explaining, in the country’s published language, what should be disclosed on the international application. Don’t forget — this search is completed after filing your PCT application. Once you receive the search report results, you will then have that time to decide which countries to apply for protection in. As previously noted, be mindful of the 30-month timeframe, because the clock begins when you file the PCT application and not when you receive the search report results.

In additional to the results, you will be provided with a written opinion on the probability of successfully applying for patent protection.

Only those that are given the role by the PCT participating states as International Searching Authorities can carry out the international search. The appointees include:

  • The national offices of Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Chile, Egypt, Finland, India, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and the U.S.,
  • The European Patent Office and the Nordic Patent Institute regional office

Patents for Startup Companies

If you operate a startup company, you’ll first want to apply for a domestic patent with the USPTO. Once you have successfully applied and obtained patent protection in the United States, you can file a PCT application in an effort to better understand which countries you’ll want to seek protection in.

Immediately after the PCT application is filed, you’ll have a total of 30 months to determine which specific countries you want to seek protection in. During this time, you should figure out what countries your product will be sold in, and what additional countries you want your product to be sold in, so that can subsequently file patent applications in those respective countries. You want to be mindful of those countries requirements, deadlines, and fees to be successful in each of your applications.

Contact Us

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