I have recently read about patents and am in a confusion on how these patents are handled internationally? Which is the foremost authority on patents? And at last how much time on an average does it take to patent something and if it is long do we get a provisional patent?

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    There is no such thing as a "provisional patent". An application may be provisional, meaning it will not, by itself, result in a patent.
    – Upnorth
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 5:04

2 Answers 2


How are patents handled internationally? Which is the foremost authority on patents?

Patents are territorial in nature. So if your invention would have a market in a particular country , you would apply for a patent there. The patent prosecution in that territory would be governed by the National laws of that country. There is no such thing as an international patent. The PCT tries to facilitate filing/applying for patents in many countries by an initial common filing after which you designate the countries you are interested in. After the designation the National laws of the designated countries take over.

And at last how much time on an average does it take to patent something and if it is long do we get a provisional patent?

This depends on the complexity of your invention and the patent prosecution process in the country of your interest. You can file a provisional patent application, but there is no such thing as a granted provisional patent

  • This is a pretty good answer, but there might be a few improvements. If you patent in enough large countries, it is a good impediment to infringement from multinational companies so you really don't need to patent in each and every country you want to sell in. Also, I believe most countries don't have provisional applications like the US has. You might want to point that out.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 2:51
  • Regarding the Provisional Patent applications: I know that India has the provision for Provisional Patent applications. China, Japan and Singapore do not recognize applications without claims for a priority date. Commented Jun 4, 2018 at 5:21

Provisional vs. Non-provisional (Basics) Provisional patents are submitted prior to non-provisional patents and are not the same thing. Non-provisional patents are what most everyone thinks of as a patent, e.g., including right to exclude, etc. Provisional patents are not reviewed by the patent office unless you are trying to use the filing date of a provisional patent to "file behind" an unfavorable event, e.g., discovery of a piece of prior art dated before non-provisional filing but after provisional filing, etc. Non-provisionals get provisional filing date if matter is the same and other nuances are met (filed within 1 year of provisional filing, etc.).

International Generally, each country handles its own patent affairs, including acceptance, enforcement, etc. So a patent filed in the USA is not meaningful in Canada, a patent filed in China is not enforceable in the US, etc. There are treaties that help to streamline international patenting such as the PCT, but generally you would still need to file separately in all the countries for which you want protection. As far as prior art, for the US, at least, any art in the world may be prior art preventing a US application from becoming a US patent.

Length of Prosection This depends on the art unit, how the patent is drafted initially, how skilled the prosecutor is at circumventing prior art and interviewing the patent examiner, etc.

Length of prosecution has little to do with whether you want to get a provisional or not. To get the benefit of the provisional filing date to swear behind prior art, you must file the non-provisional within 1 year of having filed the provisional. If a patent is granted from the non-provisional, the enforcement date of that patent is from 20 years from when you filed the non-provisional, not the provisional. You can get damages from any unauthorized use of your protected aspect from the date of publication of your non-provisional patent (which is usually 18 months after filing the non-provisional application). Provisional applications never publish.

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    That's all correct, but I think it's a little hard to follow your thoughts, especially for someone who has just read about patents as you use some patent terms op probably doesn't know. And you are jumping from pct to prior art instead of explaining how the pct helps with filing in every country. Maybe you could try to make the answer especially for someone without knowledge of prior art, priority and patent stuff, then you'll have my +1
    – user18033
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 20:05
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    It is less confusing to refer to an APPLICATION as being "provisional" or "non-provisional". There is no "provisional patent".
    – Upnorth
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 5:07
  • I thought provisional applications are US only. You don't make that clear.
    – Eric S
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 22:13
  • I totally understood your point. Just one clarification.. You are saying that once you get your "non-provisional" patent for say, 20 years, the date starts from when you applied "provisional" patent. However, you can get damages from any unauthorised use from the date of "non-provisional" patent. Is that really true? I mean it looks very "un-justified".
    – scipsycho
    Commented Oct 6, 2017 at 15:19
  • @scipsycho There is no such thing as a provisional patent. A provisional application sets the priority date for a subsequent non-provisional patent of the same invention. You can't use a provisional application to establish an early date for an different invention so it is entirely justified.
    – Eric S
    Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 17:36

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