World Intellectual Property Organization

When Should Your SME Protect its Intellectual Property Abroad?

As a general recommendation, your SME should make sure to obtain adequate protection in all relevant export markets as early as possible.

With regard to patents for inventions, most countries allow a 12-month priority period from the date of filing of the first application for applying for patents in other countries. Once this period has elapsed you may no longer be able to obtain patent protection in other countries. This may signify an important loss of earnings from your export operations.

With regard to trademarks and industrial designs, most countries provide a 6-months priority period from the date of filing of the first application for applying for trademarks and industrial designs in other countries.

With regard to copyright, if you are a national or resident of a country party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works or member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) bound by the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, or if you have published your work for the first time or at least simultaneously in one of the above countries, your copyright will be automatically protected in all other countries that are party to the Berne Convention or are members of the WTO.

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