One thing to remember is that you can’t reserve your rights in all countries with just one application.
In relation to patents, people tend to think that an international patent application or ‘PCT’ (Patent Cooperation Treaty) application is some sort of worldwide patent. A PCT application never matures into a patent in any country. At best, a PCT application is an intermediate application, usually (but not always) providing you with approximately 1.5 years of additional time to assess in which countries patent protection should be sought. The PCT application is used in a sense as a stalling tactic and launchpad for filing proper patent applications in each country of interest. Although a PCT application covers many countries of the world (152 at the time of writing), it does not cover each and every country of the world.
In addition to the PCT application, there are other single-application regimes for filing in select groups of countries. An example is the European patent which covers member states of the European Union.
Regarding worldwide trade mark registration, the closest we come to this at present is an international registration under the Madrid Protocol system. You can apply for protection in up to about 100 countries/jurisdictions by filing a single application and paying one set of fees. Note that a fee is payable for each country/jurisdiction designated, and filing in all countries/jurisdictions at the same time is usually cost prohibitive. The Madrid Protocol system is a convenient and cost-effective solution for registering and managing trade marks in many different countries/jurisdictions, including the European Union, USA, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Singapore.
To find out more information about the various international treaties and conventions, you can visit the below websites.
- PCT: http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/index.html
- European Patent: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/intellectual-property/patents_en
- Madrid Protocol: http://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/
If you have any questions about protecting your IP abroad, please don’t hesitate to contact us.