International Patent Rights
Each country enforces patent rights only under patents issued in that country. Rather than filing applications in each country, a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application affords inventors a way to obtain patent coverage for their inventions in up to 90 participating countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, European Countries, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and many others.
Under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), all patent applications must be filed within one year of the first application filed anywhere. Thus, a PCT application must be filed within one year of any U.S. application, including a provisional filing, or the PCT application may be the first application filed AS you can see from this guide for inventors.
For U.S. citizens, the PCT application is filed through the U.S. Patent Office with the cost partially dependent upon the number of countries selected for coverage. This is termed the International Stage for the PCT application. The filing fee includes receipt of a preliminary search report listing the most pertinent prior art references found by the Patent Office. Based on the search report, inventors can decide if a preliminary examination of the PCT application is desired, which requires an additional examination fee.
Following the international preliminary examination by the U.S. Patent Office, the PCT application moves to the National Stages, including the U.S. if selected. Filing and examination (with associated fees) then occurs in each selected country. However, at this point inventors may decide against entering the National Stage in any country originally selected.
Upon allowance of each PCT application in the National Stage, the examining country requires an Issue or Grant Fee, as well as a translation of the application to the native language, for the patent to take force. Yearly maintenance fees are also required to maintain a patent in force once issued. There are patent agencies, like InventHelp, providing help for your new invention idea and they can guide you through the process.