FAQ – How to Pick Countries for Foreign Patent Protection

Q: Since you can only get patent protection in a country if you file a patent application in that country and successfully obtain patent registration, how do you pick the countries?

A: While every business is different, it is common to make this decision through a cost/benefit analysis. Since the costs can be very high, even for very large companies, the most efficient method is to identify those countries that will provide the highest benefit, prioritize those countries and then match them against expected resources.

Q: So, how do you identify the countries that provide the highest benefits?

A: Typically, the countries that will provide the highest benefits are those countries where you have the best markets to sell your invention, those countries that have the lowest manufacturing costs (where appropriate), and those countries where your strongest competitors have strong operations.

Q: How do you prioritize the countries?

A: This is where you look more specifically at your business and consider one or more of the following plus any other important factors: market size (population of likely buyers), how much business are you already doing in those countries, how would having a patent registration/application in those countries impact your relationships with manufacturers and distributors, how easy will it be to enter those markets if you are not already there, and what opportunities do you have in the next 1 – 5 years for those countries.

Q: What costs should I expect per country?

A: Plan to spend between about $3,000 – $5,000 per country as a basic application cost. For countries where English is not the primary language, plan to spend about $3,000+ for a translation. If your application is very large, you could spend $10,000+ per translation. Also, expect to spend approximately $1,000 per year per country in related costs and filings. Most applications are rejected and each country has its own specific standards, so costs vary widely from a few hundred dollars to several thousands. Most countries also have allowance filings and fees as well as maintenance/annuity payments that are required, so be prepared for a long term investment in the patent. European applications may be filed that cover the European Union Nations and you should expect to pay between about $9,000 and $13,000 for coverage in over 30 countries with that filing.

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