Is there a World Patent?
There is no one patent that is valid throughout the world. To obtain patents in other countries, patent applications must be filed in those countries.
What is a PCT application?
The PCT is shorthand for Patent Cooperation Treaty. Under the PCT, member countries grant inventors who filed a patent application in their home country the benefit of that filing date if a PCT application is filed within one year of the initial home filing. However, if the inventor does not file a patent application in a specific member country within thirty months of the earliest priority claims in the PCT filing, the inventor is generally prohibited from filing in that specific country.
What is a grace period?
A grace period is the term for the 12-month window U.S. law grants inventors for filing a patent application. U.S. law allows inventors to publicly use or sell an invention for twelve months prior to filing a patent application. If a patent application is not filed within twelve months of the first public use or sale of the invention, the invention may not be patented.
Do other countries have a grace period?
Generally other countries do not have a grace period, and if they do, the grace period is often more restrictive than the grace period in the U.S. This means that if an inventor thinks he or she might desire foreign patents, the inventor should file a PPA before the first use or sale of the invention, then file an NPA and PCT application just prior to the expiration of the PPA (i.e., one year). This way, the inventor may file a patent application in any member country to the PCT within eighteen months of filing the PCT application.