WHAT HAPPENS IF AFTER I’VE FILED MY PATENT APPLICATION, AN OVERSEAS COMPANY FILES FOR THE SAME INVENTION IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY?

The answer to this question assumes that the foreign country is one of the ~170 countries that are signatories to the Paris Convention. It also assumes that the overseas company’s foreign application doesn’t make a priority claim that is earlier than your own.

 

In general, so long as you take steps to file a patent application in the foreign country, within twelve months of the date you first filed a patent application for your invention here and claim priority from your original filing, then your foreign patent application will have an earlier priority date than the overseas company’s. Therefore, the overseas company’s application won’t pose a barrier to your foreign patent application.

 

However, the situation becomes more complicated if the oversease country in question is the USA because the USA used to have a first to invent patent system rather than the first to file system in place in the rest of the world. Consequently, the owners of older US patent applications may have prior rights due to an earlier “conception” of the idea even though they filed later.



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