Patents are territorially limited. Business, of course, has less respect for national boundaries. If your markets or your competitors are spread around the globe then you may need a patent portfolio to match.
Fortunately your overseas filing strategy does not need to be settled on day one. An initial (and relatively economical) first filing in the UK can be used to stake your claim to protection and then followed up with an overseas filing programme within one year from the UK filing date.
If, perhaps for reasons of cash flow or planning, you require more time before filing overseas, a so-called “international patent application” under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) can be used to buy a further 18 months’ time (30 months in total from the initial filing date) for filing in most major trading nations.
Some groups of countries can be covered through regional patent applications. In particular a single patent application covering a large group of European Countries, including all of the EU, can be made to the European Patent Office. Regrettably at present the outcome of this process is not one single European patent in any true sense, but a group of individual national patents each requiring upkeep. A unitary European patent covering most (but at present it would seem not quite all) of the European Union is expected to be created by the EU in the foreseeable future, as to which see our news pages.
At Bartle Read we can represent you directly in relation to European and PCT applications and beyond that we are experienced in working with patent attorneys in any and every country to get you the protection that you need. The planning, costing, filing and successful prosecution of international patent families are a key part of our work and our professional expertise.