Patents applications for protection in overseas countries are generally processed using one of two methods...
European Patent Convention (EPC)
Patent Convention Treaty (PCT)
European Patent Convention
The EPC allows a single patent application to be filed in up to 38 European countries (Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom) in one of the three official languages, English, German or French.
A patent is then granted in each of the chosen countries according to the countries national law.
Patent Convention Treaty
The PCT allows a single patent application to be filed in 148 countries and streamlines the protection process. It imposes only one set of formalities to comply with instead of multiple national formalities and requires only one international search, publication and examination.
The PCT system comprises of two stages, an international phase and a national or regional phase before designated offices. The international phase starts the process and similar to filing in the UK consists of filing the application, undertaking a search, the publication of the patent, preliminary examination etc. Afterwards, the application progresses to the national or regional phase, where it is converted into individual foreign patent applications in each of the countries where patent protection is to be sought.
The decision to grant a patent is made by the national or regional offices during the national phase. The national phase is usually applied at 30 months (some states are 20 months) with translations and fees being payable at this point.