Quite awhile back I came up with an invention, or I read about it somewhere even longer ago and didn't come up with it myself. At any rate it's already in production in the form of a toy in Japan.
After looking around a bit I can't find any patent covering this invention. Can I still patent it for my own commercial use? How about a Dutch patent, EU or worldwide?
What I'm really asking is whether prior art by a company in some country also provides protection for them abroad.
Let's say I do get a worldwide patent, could the Japanese company in question just ignore it and sell any product based on the invention in Japan alone, or even worldwide?
I used Espacenet but I'm not very skilled at searching for patents. In addition to that the tool uses machine translation which isn't perfect yet.