I would like to sell my invention internationally. What are the steps necessary to do so? Would I need the help of a company who finances patent applications?
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Probably your first step is to file a PCT application in the United States Patent Office - you state that you are a resident of the United States, therefore you can only file a PCT application in the PCT Receiving Office of the United States Patent Office or else you can file the PCT at the International Bureau, but there is no real benefit to that.
Once the PCT application is filed, you normally have 30 months from the date of filing to select those countries where you want to obtain patents. Patents are territorial, meaning, they are only valid in those countries where the patents exist. A United States patent, in and of itself, will not protect you, for example, in Europe - you need a European patent. The PCT application is effectively the "gateway" to obtaining patents within most countries that you would be interested in obtaining a patent - the notable exception is Taiwan which, for some unexplained reason, is not a member of PCT. Therefore, if you intend to seek protection in Taiwan, it would be to your benefit to file a patent application in Taiwan at the same time as filing the PCT application. If your funding is limited, then you can first file a US provisional patent application - this can be a relatively inexpensive route provided that your disclosure does in fact truly disclose your invention in detail - this is called an "enabling" disclosure and must convey to third parties all details of the invention and how it works. The filing fee is also relatively inexpensive - $130 for a small entity, $65 for a micro-entity. The "problem" with a provisional patent application is that in and of itself, a provisional patent application will never lead to a patent - the application is never even examined. What the provisional patent application does for you is to establish a priority date so that if someone else files a patent application subsequent to your provisional patent application, you will effectively be the senior party whereby your non-provisional patent application, which must be filed within one year from the filing date of your provisional patent application, will be considered as prior art to these subsequently filed patent applications because your non-provisional patent application will be granted an effective filing date which is the filing date of your provisional patent application. You can then also file a PCT application so as to again gain "entry" into foreign countries, however, again, the PCT must be filed within one year of the filing date of the provisional patent application.
If you do not file your non-provisional patent application or PCT application within the one-year period, your provisional patent application is abandoned and you lose your priority date. Within that one year period, since you have preliminarily established some patent rights, you can arrange funding for your patents, sell the rights to your patents, assess the commercialization potential of your invention, or the like. Still another option open to you, in order to minimize initial costs, is to file the provisional application, and then within one year, file your PCT application without filing a US non-provisional application. Once your PCT application is filed, you then have 30 months from the filing date of the provisional application to file your US non-provisional application as well as to also select your foreign countries into which you want to proceed in order to obtain your foreign patents.
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