Once you have decided that you wish to apply for patent protection abroad, you may either:
- file a patent application to the national patent authority in the country or countries concerned, or
- use international and/or regional agreements, which make it easier to apply for a patent in several countries for the same invention at the same time
Before you apply outside Norway
As applying for a patent abroad can be expensive, it is advisable to evaluate the likelihood of making a profit from your patent, before you begin the process. It is also important to carefully assess in which countries you wish to secure rights to a patent with regard to industry and the market.
So as not to waste time and money protecting an invention which may not be patentable in other countries, we recommend filing an initial patent application to the Industrial Property Office here in Norway. You will receive a written technical opinion regarding the patentability of your invention within about 7 months. This report will give you a good idea as to the outcome of your patent application at the European Patent Office (EPO) and in other countries.
If you need an urgent evaluation of your invention, you may order a preliminary search. You will receive an indication as to the patentability of your invention within 10 days.
Read more about the Preliminary Search Service
Your invention must not have been made known to others before the day on which the patent application is filed. In some countries, there are other rules, for example a grace period.
If you have filed a patent application in one country (e.g. Norway) and wish to file an application for the same invention in other countries, it is important to note that this application must be filed within 12 months of the first application. This ensures that you have the same "priority" date, and that the novelty aspect of your invention will be assessed as if it had been filed at the same time as the first application. If other patent applications containing the same invention have been filed during this "priority year", your application will have first priority. Once you have filed your patent abroad, making your invention public will no longer be a hindrance to your being granted a patent.
You may claim priority from the first application (priority application) at the same time as you file your application abroad, or within 16 months of filing your first application, but no later than 4 months after the second application has been filed. You must also file a priority document issued by the Office of First Filing (the Office with which the priority application was first filed). NIPO can provide you with a certified copy of the priority document.
A Norwegian patent application becomes publicly available 18 months after filing. This will therefore be the latest possible date to file an application for the complete invention, or part of it, outside Norway. If the priority year (12 months after the first filing) has expired, you will no longer be able to claim priority from the first application.
NB: There is no central authority with the power to grant a "world patent".
Patent applications and national security considerations
A small number of patent applications may have significance to the defence of the realm and hence become subject to directions under the Norwegian Patents Act, section 71. You may file a patent application for this type of invention. However, special conditions apply with regard to filing, communication and handling of these applications.
Read more about patent applications with significance to the defence of the realm
In order to get the best possible rights to your invention, we recommend that you seek professional assistance when planning and drafting your patent application in Norway and abroad. It can be a complicated process for inexperienced applicants. A list of professional patent agents can be found in the Norwegian Yellow pages (These pages are in Norwegian only - use the keyword "patent").
Innovation Norway can also help you establish your company abroad.
Read more on the Innovation Norway website
For more information on international patenting, ring our Information Centre, tel 22 38 73 33.