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Patent protection worldwide

Applying for a patent in the United Kingdom (UK) does not protect your invention elsewhere.

If your application contains information about military technology, or could harm national security or public safety, you must request permission to apply for a patent abroad.

You can protect your invention in many international countries using the Patent Co-operation Treaty (PCT) through the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). You can apply through us, the European Patent Office (EPO) or WIPO.

A PCT application is initially processed as a single application. You will receive an international search report and written opinion. Your application is published around 18 months from the earliest priority date. You then have to process your application separately in each country.

Using the PCT system has the following advantages:

  • You get a single international search report, which can reduce the administrative burden and costs.

  • In the early stages, you process a single international application instead of multiple applications in multiple patent offices.

  • You do not have to designate which countries you want protection in until about 30 months from the date you applied.

You can get protection in individual countries by applying to the national office of each country. This is advisable if you only want protection in a few countries. You should get advice from the national patent office External Link of any country you want protection in.

You can claim priority from an existing patent application if you apply abroad within 12 months of your original application. Your later application will be treated as if you applied on the same date as the original application.