Applying for a patent outside Canada and convention priority

Obtaining a Canadian patent does not protect your invention in another country. If you want this protection, you'll have to apply for a foreign patent.


For example, suppose you have invented amountain-climbingsnowmobile and hope to corner the market in countries where the machine may be in demand. You'll probably want a patent not only in Canada, but also in the United States, Austria, Germany and wherever else amountain-climbingsnowmobile could be used. You might also want a patent in Japan, where many snowmobiles are manufactured. Otherwise, someone in one of those countries might copy your invention and market it in competition with you.

You may apply for a foreign patent:

But no matter how you apply, you'll have to abide by the patent laws of that country. Bear in mind that these laws may differ from Canadian laws.

The importance of dates when filing in multiple countries: Convention priority

Many countries, like Canada, belong to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, a treaty that allows you to invoke what is called "convention priority." This means that your filing date in one member country will be recognized by all the others, provided you file in those countries within a year of your first filing. For example, if you filed in Canada on January 2, 2004, you could file up to a year later in most countries (January 2, 2005) and still be given the same filing rights as if you had filed there in 2004.

Under the Paris Convention, you can also file an application abroad in most countries, and then in Canada. The Canadian Intellectual Property Office will recognize the earlier filing date as the claim date as long as you file a Canadian application within a year of the foreign filing date, or within 14 months of the foreign filing date if priority is successfully restored. A request to claim priority must be made within the prescribed period (in most cases, 16 months from the foreign filing date). Please note that your application will be made available for public inspection approximately 18 months after your convention priority date, not your filing date in Canada.

It is also possible to claim convention priority based on an earlier filed Canadian application.

Addresses of foreign patent offices