A patent is a title to intellectual property that serves to protect an invention, i.e. the technical characteristics of a product or a process.
The disclosure of the invention, prior to the application for a patent, causes the invention to fall into the public domain, which prevents all possibility of future protection by patent.
Once the first application for a patent has been filed, the applicant has a period of up to 12 months from the filing date of that first application to protect itself abroad.
Several “routes” for extending the patent are possible: national, regional or international. These are not mutually exclusive and may be combined according to strategic and financial considerations.
The national route
The patent application is filed with the Patent Office of the Member State or States in which you wish to protect the invention (INPI for France). Each procedure is autonomous and results in the issuance of a national title, independent of titles obtained in other Member States.
The European route
The European patent system enables, via the filing of a single application with the European Patent Office (EPO) and after a single review procedure, the issuance of a title which is valid across multiple European Member States (more than 40 to date). At the conclusion of the procedure, the European patent is transformed into as many national patents as there are designated countries. The filing of a translation of the patent in the official language of each of these Member States will enable each one to come into force.
This system considerably simplifies the issuance procedure.
The international route - Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
This preliminary procedure allows the applicant, via a single filing (made in France through INPI), to protect its invention in several Member States or regional organisations (more than 150 to date). At the end of a specified period, the applicant selects the Member States with whom it wishes to obtain national or regional protection. A translation of the patent in the official language of each of these Member States must then be filed. This starts the identical national or regional procedures (or slightly simplified versions, as compared with those they usually perform for patents filed directly via national or regional routes), resulting in the issuance of a national patent in each of the designated Member States.
The PCT procedure offers the advantage of delaying the choice of countries in which protection is requested.
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