International patent protection is hugely valuable for companies like Apple or Samsung. But is it right for startups? While not a lot is said about how international patent protection would benefit startups in terms of their business strategy, it’s true that for a large number of new businesses, their innovative and creative flare is what keeps them afloat. Because of this, it’s very important that you give your startup adequate protection from competing businesses by safeguarding your own valuable intellectual property (“IP”). To do this, you may want to get the help of an experienced IP solicitor.

Where should you start?

Your first step should be filing a domestic patent application. A patent is basically a state-granted monopoly over a particular invention for a period of time (8-20 years). Patents are only valid within the countries for which they are granted the monopoly. A patent in Australia will not stop infringement in another jurisdiction. For this reason, it’s really quite crucial for startups to get as much protection internationally as their finances allow.

The reality is that patent protection can be expensive. Different countries charge different fees for patent applications. On top of that, if the application is complex and lengthy, or needs to be translated, the total costs for a single patent application can be upwards of $100,000.

International patent protection, as you can already tell, is a costly procedure. It’s also very valuable. Speak with an IP solicitor or patent attorney to assess whether or not you need this level of protection.

Where could you save money?

You might be wondering, “Where can I save money in all this?” As a startup, balancing the protection of your valuable intellectual property with good cost-saving practices is key.

Initially, you can lodge an application through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) instead of the Paris Convention. This is a cheaper way of applying, especially if you’re planning on seeking protection in multiple countries. The other benefit of the PCT is that, after applying, you can postpone your national filing costs for 18 months or more. In this interim, some applicants fine tune their invention, familiarize with their target market, and investigate potentially interested buyers.

Next, choose only the countries that are strategic for your target market. You should understand your invention back-to-front, and to whom it appeals. Once you know this, you can work out where it will sell and where it can be made. Rank the list of countries in order of importance and make sure an IP solicitor checks the legislation of the other countries to make sure there is no conflict. There are some countries that, for example, don’t allow patents that are cruel towards animals, and others that make it difficult to patent software. Make sure an IP solicitor or patent attorney is on hand ready to assist you with drafting these applications.

Finally, as a startup, you might not know every detail of the process of filing a foreign patent, but a general understanding can significantly reduce costs. Make sure you know when things are due so that you don’t incur any extra charges.

Also, it’s worth noting that Europe may impose additional fees for every claim that exceeds a certain number. In other words, if you have fewer claims, you’ll have fewer fees to pay.

Conclusion

To get acquainted with the process of applying for international patent protection, speak with one of our lawyers at LegalVision. We have serviced many clients’ patenting needs, and look forward to helping you too. To speak with one of our IP solicitors or patent attorneys, contact us on 1300 544 755.

Lachlan McKnight

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