What are patent foreign filing deadlines?

A foreign filing deadline refers to a specific date by which an applicant must file a foreign patent application to claim the benefit of an earlier domestic patent application. That benefit is called a priority claim. Different types of patent applications have different foreign filing deadlines.

What is the foreign filing deadline for a design patent application?

For design patent applications, the foreign filing deadline is 6 months from the earliest filing date, known as the priority date. That means that you must file your design patent application in desired foreign countries within six months of your US filing date in order to claim the benefit of your earlier US filing date. If the design priority date belongs to a foreign priority application, then a US design patent application must be filed within 6 months of the foreign priority date to get the benefit of the earlier foreign priority date.

What is the foreign filing deadline for a utility patent application?

For utility patent applications, the foreign filing deadline is 1 year from the priority date.  A PCT application extends the foreign filing deadline by an additional 18 months for a total of 30 months from the priority date.  Of course, any patent protection for non-PCT countries must be filed within 12 months of the priority date.  Here’s a timeline of foreign filing deadlines for utility patent applications.

Foreign patents only available for inventions kept confidential before priority date

Most foreign countries require that the applicant has a priority date that precedes the earliest date of public disclosure of the patent-pending invention. In other words, you cannot disclose your invention publicly before securing a patent priority date if you want to obtain foreign patents. If you think an invention might be worthy of foreign patent protection, make sure to file at least a US patent application before making any public disclosures or sales.

Grace period for filing late patent applications if foreign countries

If you have blown past the patent foreign filing deadline, you might have a couple of months to take advantage of certain grace periods discussed in this article.

What are your options if you failed to meet the foreign deadline?

If you cannot take advantage of an earlier priority date, you might still be able to file foreign patent applications so long as you do not have any prior public disclosures of your invention. For utility patent applications, one key consideration will be whether your earlier utility application has already been published.

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Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney, Cofounder at Innovation Capital Law Group
We align ourselves with Davids fighting Goliaths. We have helped clients obtain 700+ granted patents, 500+ registered trademarks and countless foreign IP registrations. Let's get to work on your IP: (949) 223-9623 | vlin@icaplaw.com

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