WO Patents

WO patents are granted by the World Intellectual Property Organization, also referred to as WIPO. The prefix WO, short for WIPO, means the patent will be administrated by the organization. WIPO is an agency operating under the United Nations and is responsible for administering several international treaties relating to patents and other intellectual property rights. Particularly, the Patent Cooperation Treaty is overseen by WIPO and provides procedural guidelines for filing patent applications in member countries. There are a total of 184 members of WIPO, including the U.S., China, and many European countries.

All About WIPO

  • WIPO allows inventors to file one patent application, indicating on the application which member states he or she wishes to obtain protection in. This eliminates the need to file several patent applications simultaneously with different member states.
  • The Patent Cooperation Treaty, also referred to as PCT, determines problems of priority when more than one individual or business is seeking patent protection over the same invention.
  • Filing a patent application in one member state gives the inventor a period of one year to also file an application in another member state. This, however, is only the case if the member state is also a contracting party to the Paris Convention.
  • If you want to file a patent application with WIPO, you can visit its website to file the application online. The application itself will need to include what is expected on any typical patent application, including details of the invention, illustrations, photographs, etc.
  • With regard to filing fees, WIPO allows inventors to postpone the fees associated with filing for international patent protection.
  • In addition to accepting and reviewing patent applications, WIPO provides information and advice on whether or not an invention can, in fact, be patented.
  • WIPO’s website itself provides information and advice for patent filing, along with the specific member states that are part of WIPO.
  • The WIPO patent publications are named ‘WO’ standing for ‘world’ followed by the year in which the invention was patented (last two digits), followed by a publication number (a number given to each patent), followed by either A1 for the first publication or A2 for the second publication.

Does My WIPO Application Mean That I Will Have a Patent in All Member States?

No; keep in mind that there is no such thing as an international patent. While some indicate that an international patent application can be filed with WIPO, what they really mean is that the one application submitted to WIPO will provide you, as the inventor, with additional information on how to actually obtain patent protection in the countries that you listed on your application. Therefore, if you submitted your application and identified that you wish to seek protection in three countries (three member states), then WIPO will provide you with guidelines and instructions on how to obtain patent protection in each of those three countries, which could be different depending on which country you are seeking to obtain patent protection in.

If you want to obtain a patent in any one of the member states, you will then need to make a request in that country’s patent office. If you take a look at the PCT application on WIPO’s website, you’ll see text in the upper right corner stating ‘Designated Status’ followed by a list of two-letter codes. Those codes stand for the country, i.e., AU (Australia), CN (China), etc. You can list as many as 110 countries on this application. But this list does not mean that you are submitting it to each of these countries. It simply means that you are identifying to WIPO that you have an interest in obtaining a patent in each of these countries.

What is the Paris Convention Treaty?

The Paris Convention Treaty was entered into by a group of countries, all of which agreed not to discriminate against one another by giving patent applicants a one-year time period to file in another country after the patent application was submitted, without risking losing the filing date. For example, if you file a patent application in China, you can wait one year before filing another application in Canada. This gives you additional time to determine if you want to also file for patent protection in Canada; you can look at the risks and benefits and even the cost of what it would be to file in that country. 

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