Outlier Patent Attorneys

International Filing Deadlines


In the patent world, timing is critical. From the moment you disclose your invention to the public in any form, offer your invention for sale, or publish your invention in any form, the clock starts ticking on your ability to obtain patent rights. In other words, you have a limited amount of time to file for patent protection–both in the US and around the world. In this blog post, we'll navigate the complexities of international patent filing deadlines for both design patents and utility patents, including the key dates you need to know and the requirements for meeting the deadlines.

What are international patent filing deadlines?

A international (or foreign) filing deadline is the crucial date that inventors need to file by to claim the priority date of an earlier domestic patent application. Let's put that into perspective.

If someone files a patent application in the US first and then files a foreign application within a certain amount of time (usually a year), the foreign application can actually "claim priority" from the original application (35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d)). That means the foreign application can get the same filing date as the original US application, which can be helpful for establishing the priority of the invention.

Claiming priority from an earlier filing date can be a game-changer for your patent application. An inventor can establish an earlier date of invention for their invention in the foreign country, allowing them to unquestionably resolve disputes over the origination of an invention. It can also can help an inventor secure patent protection in multiple countries much smoother as they can rely on the same invention disclosure and filing date for all applications.

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

The foreign filing deadline for utility patent applications is set at one (1) year from the priority date. However, there is an option to file what's called a PCT application, which extends the foreign filing deadline by an additional 18 months, for a total of 30 months from the priority date.

It's important to note that if you're seeking patent protection in countries that are not part of the PCT system, you'll need to file your application within 12 months of the priority date.

A timeline of the application process may look like this:

  • File a US utility patent application: Establishes priority date

  • File a PCT application: 1 year from priority date

  • Enter national phase (PCT application): 30 months from priority date

  • File a utility patent application in non-PCT countries: 12 months from priority date

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

The deadline for design patent applications is set at six (6) months from the earliest filing date, or the priority date. If you want to protect your design patent in other countries, you need to file your application in those countries within six months of your original US filing date.

However, if your design priority date is based on a foreign priority application instead, you must file a US design patent application within six (6) months of the foreign priority date in order to take advantage of the earlier foreign priority date. Keep these deadlines in mind to protect your design patent internationally.