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Protecting inventions internationally: Patent law

When you came up with your latest invention, you knew right away that you had to protect it. It could be life-changing for you and your company if you can manage to keep it protected under law. You don't want to see someone else create it and cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars in potential profits.

Patents are often touted as a good way to protect what's yours, but if you want to protect your ideas, services or creations, you need to make sure you get a patent in every territory where it's at risk. You'll have to have a patent in the USA, Canada, Mexico or other countries specifically to protect your work there.

Every country has its own patent laws, which is why it's necessary to file a patent in each country individually. Maintenance fees may be required to keep up your patent in each country, so it's a good idea only to have a patent in the countries where you're actively manufacturing or producing your invention. Most foreign countries do require you to show that your invention is being manufactured there within around three years of the patent.

In June, 1970, the Patent Cooperation Treaty was created. This treaty helps make it easier to file for patents among member countries. There is a standardized format for the application, making it much easier for you to collect and fill out applications for each member country. If you decide to file for protection under the treaty, you'll have up to 30 months to file a patent with any of the other countries who are also part of the treaty.

Source: International Trade Administration, "Is My U.S. Patent Good in Other Countries?," accessed April 12, 2018

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