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What to know about foreign filing licenses 

Globalization and the internet mean that people and businesses across the globe can easily see and perhaps copy your ideas. 

Unfortunately, there is no patent that covers the whole world. If you need to protect your patents in other countries, you will need to file for patent protection separately in each one or area. Yet the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) lays out strict rules about how you can do this. 

You need permission from the U.S. Commissioner of Patents 

You must ask for a foreign filing license. However, this cannot be granted until at least six months after you file for the U.S. patent because they need time to check if there is anything they want to keep secret.

If you come up with a fantastic new idea, they might not want to see it exported because it could give other countries a massive trade or military advantage. Only once you have this permission can you go ahead and file for patent protection in other countries. If you do not follow this procedure, the USPTO may declare your U.S. patent invalid. In certain cases, you could also face jail.

Can I get someone else to file for a foreign license for me?

No. The USPTO can also invalidate your patent if someone does it for you, such as your business partner or your legal team or a friend you asked a favor of. It’s not just the patent it applies to but “the registration of a utility model, industrial design, or model in respect of an invention made in this country.”

Patent law is complex, and the consequences of misunderstanding them can be massive. It’s wise to get legal help to help you make the right decisions.


Contact us at 612-361-0309 or fill

out the form to the right.

Minnesota Office

4800 IDS Center

80 South 8th Street

Minneapolis, MN 55402

Phone: 612-361-0309

Montana Office

2066 Stadium Drive

Ste. 101

Bozeman, MT 59715

Phone: 406-851-9836


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