A patent application in Finland is often the easiest way to begin the process of protecting an invention. This approach is also relatively inexpensive. However, a patent is a national right, and a Finnish patent does not protect the invention in other countries. With a few exceptions, the invention needs to be patented separately in each target country through the national application process. For this reason, applying for patents abroad is time-consuming and fairly expensive. The scopes of the patents depend to a high degree on the nature, scope and financial resources of the applicant’s business.
The day of filing the first application is a significant date known as priority date. It marks the beginning of a 12-month period known as priority year. During the priority year, the applicant can claim a priority right for applications filed in other countries. This means that the applicant has the right of priority to be granted a patent for the invention in other countries, effective as of the date of filing the first application. One of the most important advantages of this approach is that foreign patent applications do not have to be submitted on the same day as the first application. Instead, the applicant has 12 months for considering and preparing subsequent applications.
Patents can be applied via various routes, depending on the total amount and timing of costs as well as the optimal scheduling of cost-related decisions and the selection of target countries. The scope, timing and order of patenting must be considered carefully based on marketing plans, competition and the intended use of the patent.
If the applicant aims for a patent in several European countries, it is advisable to submit an application to the European Patent Office. Patents granted by the European Patent Office only need to be registered in the target countries. This approach offers considerable cost savings if the applicant has three or more target countries.
Patent Cooperation Treaty
It is advisable to file applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) if the applicant needs a patent in several countries on several continents, or wants to postpone selecting the target countries as well as a major part of the costs. This approach will increase the total cost to some degree, but it allows the applicant to postpone the largest expenses and the related decision-making by as much as 30 months. This approach is particularly useful in a situation where market development in the intended target countries remains unclear and the applicant wants to retain the possibility of applying for a patent in these countries.
National patent applications
The fastest way to obtain a patent in several countries is to file applications in each of them. This ensures that the examination of the patent application in the patent offices of the target countries will begin quickly. The disadvantage of this approach is that most of the costs are at the early stages of the process, as a considerable part of the total cost of foreign patent applications is related to filing the application.
Our experts would be glad to provide more information on the different options.
Helsinki: Mr. Sami Mäkinen, IP Consultant, tel. +358 10 227 2232
Tampere: Mr. Kim Simelius, Patent Attorney, Managing Director, tel. +358 10 227 2610
Turku: Ms. Kaisa Suominen, European Patent Attorney, tel. +358 10 227 2550