international application (patents): Intellectual Property Terminology Explained

Glossary, Patent Law and Patent Bar Review

In the world of innovation and creativity, protecting your intellectual property is of utmost importance. Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, trademarks, and designs, that are used in commerce. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of international patent applications and explore the terminology associated with intellectual property law.

Understanding Intellectual Property: A Brief Overview

The Importance of Intellectual Property:

Intellectual property plays a vital role in promoting innovation and creativity. It provides a legal framework to safeguard the rights of creators and inventors, giving them exclusive ownership over their creations. By granting them exclusive rights, intellectual property encourages and rewards innovation, fostering economic growth and technological advancement.

Furthermore, intellectual property rights not only protect the interests of individual creators and inventors but also benefit society as a whole. They ensure that new ideas and inventions are shared and disseminated, allowing others to build upon existing knowledge and push the boundaries of innovation.

Different Types of Intellectual Property:

Intellectual property can be categorized into various types, each with its own set of protections and regulations. These types include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.


A patent is a form of intellectual property protection that grants exclusive rights to inventors over their inventions. It provides inventors with the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing their inventions without permission. Patents are typically granted for a limited period, usually 20 years from the filing date, and are subject to certain requirements, such as novelty, non-obviousness, and industrial applicability.

Patents serve as a powerful incentive for inventors to invest time, resources, and effort into developing new and innovative technologies. They provide inventors with a monopoly over their inventions, allowing them to recoup their investment and reap the rewards of their ingenuity.


Copyright is a type of intellectual property protection that grants exclusive rights to authors and creators over their original works of authorship. These works can include literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic creations, as well as computer software and architectural designs.

With copyright protection, creators have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, display, perform, and modify their works. This ensures that creators have control over how their works are used and allows them to monetize their creations through licensing and other commercial arrangements.


A trademark is a form of intellectual property protection that grants exclusive rights to individuals or businesses over distinctive signs, symbols, or logos that distinguish their goods or services from others in the marketplace. Trademarks can include brand names, logos, slogans, and even product packaging.

By registering a trademark, businesses can prevent others from using similar signs or symbols that may cause confusion among consumers. Trademarks help build brand recognition and reputation, enabling businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors and attract customers.

Trade Secrets:

Trade secrets are a type of intellectual property that refers to confidential and valuable information that gives businesses a competitive advantage. Examples of trade secrets can include manufacturing processes, formulas, recipes, customer lists, and marketing strategies.

Unlike patents, copyrights, or trademarks, trade secrets are not registered or publicly disclosed. Instead, they are protected through confidentiality agreements and other legal measures. Maintaining the secrecy of trade secrets is crucial for businesses to retain their competitive edge and prevent others from benefiting from their proprietary information.

In conclusion, intellectual property rights are essential for fostering innovation, protecting creators’ rights, and promoting economic growth. By understanding the different types of intellectual property and their respective protections, individuals and businesses can navigate the complex landscape of intellectual property law and fully utilize their creative and innovative potential.

The Concept of International Patent Application

What is an International Patent Application?

An international patent application is a mechanism that allows inventors to simultaneously seek protection for their inventions in multiple countries. It is governed by the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), a treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The Process of Filing an International Patent Application:

Filing an international patent application involves a series of steps. Firstly, the inventor files the application with the respective national or regional patent office. Then, the application undergoes an international search conducted by a designated International Searching Authority (ISA).

The international search is a crucial step in the patent application process. It is conducted to determine the novelty and patentability of the invention. The ISA carefully examines prior art, which includes existing patents, scientific literature, and other relevant sources of information. This thorough search helps in assessing the uniqueness and inventive step of the invention.

Once the international search is completed, the application moves to the international preliminary examination phase. In this phase, the claims of the invention are assessed to determine their clarity, support, and patentability. The international preliminary examination is conducted by an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA), which is typically the same office as the ISA or a separate office.

During the international preliminary examination, the IPEA reviews the application in detail, analyzing the technical aspects, legal requirements, and any objections raised by the ISA. The examination report provides valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the patent application, helping the inventor refine and strengthen their claims.

After the international preliminary examination, individual national or regional patent offices come into play. The inventor can choose to enter the national phase in each desired country or region. This involves submitting the necessary documents and paying the required fees to initiate the examination process in each jurisdiction.

Once the application enters the national phase, it is reviewed by the respective patent office, which evaluates the invention based on its own set of criteria and regulations. The examination process at the national level may vary from country to country, but it generally involves a thorough analysis of the invention’s novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability.

It is important to note that an international patent application does not automatically grant a patent in all the countries where protection is sought. Each country has its own patent laws and procedures, and the application must meet the specific requirements of each jurisdiction to obtain a granted patent.

Furthermore, the international patent application provides inventors with a valuable opportunity to assess the commercial potential of their invention in multiple markets. By filing an international patent application, inventors can gauge the interest of potential licensees or investors in different countries, which can be crucial for securing funding or entering into licensing agreements.

In conclusion, the process of filing an international patent application involves a comprehensive and multi-stage examination of the invention’s novelty, patentability, and commercial potential. It provides inventors with a global avenue to protect and commercialize their inventions, opening doors to international markets and opportunities.

Key Terminology in Intellectual Property Law

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT):

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international treaty that eases the process of filing international patent applications. It simplifies and streamlines the procedure by providing a centralized filing system and a unified process for international search and examination.

Under the PCT, inventors are able to file a single international patent application, known as a PCT application, which is recognized by over 150 countries around the world. This eliminates the need for separate filings in each individual country, saving time and reducing administrative burdens.

Furthermore, the PCT provides a mechanism for international search and examination, which helps applicants assess the potential patentability of their inventions on a global scale. The International Searching Authority (ISA) conducts a search to identify prior art and relevant documents that may affect the novelty and inventive step of the invention.

The PCT also offers the option of international preliminary examination, which provides a detailed analysis of the invention’s patentability. This examination report can be used to guide the applicant in deciding whether to pursue patent protection in specific countries.

Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property:

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property is another important international treaty in the field of intellectual property law. It was first established in 1883 and has since been revised several times to adapt to the changing needs of the global intellectual property community.

The main objective of the Paris Convention is to ensure the protection of industrial property rights, including patents, trademarks, and industrial designs, among its member countries. It establishes certain minimum standards for intellectual property protection, which member countries are required to implement in their national laws.

One of the key provisions of the Paris Convention is the right of priority. This means that an inventor who has filed an application for protection in one member country can later claim priority based on that earlier filing when seeking protection in other member countries. This allows inventors to secure their rights while having the flexibility to explore potential markets before making a final decision on where to seek patent protection.

Patentability and Novelty:

Patentability is a crucial concept in intellectual property law, referring to the criteria that an invention must meet in order to be granted a patent. These criteria generally include being novel, involving an inventive step, and being capable of industrial application.

Novelty, in particular, plays a fundamental role in determining patentability. It means that the invention must be new and not disclosed to the public before the filing date of the patent application. This requirement ensures that inventors are rewarded for their original contributions to the field and prevents others from obtaining patents for inventions that are already known.

In order to assess the novelty of an invention, patent offices conduct searches to identify prior art, which includes any publicly available information that may affect the patentability of the invention. Prior art can include existing patents, scientific articles, technical manuals, and other relevant documents.

Invention Disclosure and Patent Claims:

An invention disclosure is a detailed description of the invention, including its technical features, functionality, and potential applications. It serves as a crucial document in the patent application process, providing a comprehensive overview of the invention to patent examiners and potential investors.

When drafting an invention disclosure, inventors typically include drawings, diagrams, and detailed explanations to clearly illustrate their invention’s unique aspects and advantages. This helps patent examiners assess the patentability and scope of the invention.

Patent claims, on the other hand, define the scope and boundaries of the patent’s protection. They specify the elements and limitations of the invention for which exclusivity is sought. Patent claims are typically drafted in a precise and technical manner to clearly define the invention’s novel aspects and distinguish it from existing technologies.

The drafting of patent claims requires careful consideration of the prior art and an understanding of the legal requirements for patentability. Inventors and their patent attorneys often engage in a thorough analysis of the invention to identify the essential features that make it patentable and to ensure that the claims are broad enough to provide meaningful protection.

The Role of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

WIPO’s Involvement in International Patent Applications:

As the specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for intellectual property matters, WIPO plays a significant role in the international patent application process. It administers the PCT and facilitates cooperation among national and regional patent offices, ensuring a smooth and efficient filing and examination process.

Services Provided by WIPO for Patent Applicants:

WIPO provides various services to patent applicants, including international search and preliminary examination, patent information and documentation, assistance in handling intellectual property disputes, and capacity-building programs to enhance understanding and utilization of intellectual property rights.

Case Studies: Successful International Patent Applications

Case Study 1: XYZ Company’s International Patent Success:

XYZ Company, a global leader in technological innovation, pursued an international patent application to safeguard their groundbreaking invention. By utilizing the PCT system, they obtained patent protection in multiple countries, giving them exclusive rights to their invention and a competitive advantage in the global market.

Case Study 2: How ABC Corporation Navigated the International Patent Process:

ABC Corporation, a small startup with big ideas, navigated the intricate international patent process by leveraging WIPO’s services. With the assistance of WIPO’s comprehensive guidance and support, they successfully filed an international patent application and secured patent protection for their innovative product.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, international patent applications have become vital in protecting inventions on a global scale. By understanding the terminology associated with intellectual property law and seeking support from organizations like WIPO, innovators and inventors can navigate the complex landscape of international patent applications and ensure that their creations receive the recognition and protection they deserve.