Does Owning a United States Patent Protect an Invention Against Infringement in Another Country?
Each country has its own system for registering and enforcing patents. There is no such thing as an “international patent.”
As a result, the owner of a United States patent can enforce that patent – i.e., prevent another person from making, using, selling, or offering for sale their invention – only within the United States. Under certain circumstances, patent enforcement will entail blocking the importation of infringing products into the United States.
But United States patent rights stop at the border. An inventor cannot use a United States patent to prevent others from making, using, selling, or offering their invention for sale abroad.
That does not mean that American inventors are left with no patent protection abroad. American inventors can acquire patent rights in other countries to protect their invention. The patent rights that other countries provide, however, will differ from country to country.
A typical way for inventors to protect their inventions in other countries is to rely on the framework established by international treaties such as the Paris Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. These treaties allow inventors to benefit from an earlier application filing date in one country across all countries in which protection is sought – provided those countries are treaty signatories. Note, however, that while these treaties offer significant advantages for American inventors, those inventors will still have to file individual patent applications in each country in which they want to protect their invention.
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