When an organization owns an exciting invention, which needs protection under a patent, the sheer logistics of reviewing the level of protection available (in about 200 countries of the world) boggle the mind; even without the concerns about revealing one’s trade secret in the patent application process and the costs involved to get cover in the chosen countries.
The level of protection offered by a patent differs by country. For example, once a United States patent is granted, anyone that makes the patented product outside the United States and imports it into this country infringes on that patent. However, if the patented product never enters the United States, there is no infringement.
In the U.S. companies may apply for a design patent or a utility patent. While the requirements for obtaining both patent types are similar, they differ in the cost to prepare and file, the term of protection, the level of rigor employed in evaluating the application, and the period of patent pending. It is possible to exercise a choice and make a selection only when there is complete clarity about the organization’s business goals and global opportunities. It is necessary to also verify whether the countries in which the product would be marketed comply with the regulations and standards set by North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Keep these guidelines in mind when filing for patents:
It is clear that the time and expense involved in obtaining a patent can always be minimized by assessing the potential of a market. An in-depth knowledge of the patent laws of the different regions will go a long way to help in the process.
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