International Conventions

International rights in your brand names, designs, marks and patents are provided by registering in each country or region in which your products or services are sold. You might file patents in countries where you or your competitors make, use and sell products or services covered by your patent rights. There is a time limit on filing patents, and you might not be able to file a patent in many countries after you have used your invention or made your invention publicly known. 

We want you to be protected wherever and whenever you need to be protected. So, you need to know about international conventions for filing of your marks and patents. If you are a U.S. citizen or legal resident, then this applies to you. If not, then you should consult with local IP counsel in the country where you reside.

Patents may be filed in most countries using a Patent Cooperation Treaty application. This single application provides for an international search and preliminary examination, usually prior to entry into the national stage in one or more of the countries listed and shown below.

Click here for: non-contracting states

For states not contracting with the PCT, a separate application must be filed before any use of the invention or any publication of the invention, unless the non-contracting state has a treaty or convention with the United States of America (if you are a U.S. citizen or legal resident). Otherwise, a PCT application may be filed within one year of your earliest U.S. filing date.

International Trademark Rights 

Consider registering marks in countries or regions where you offer products or services or where you intend to offer products or services. Don't allow a distributor to register a mark for you, because this could cause a problem if you want to switch distributors later. Instead, register your own marks or marks that you select for the country or region in your own company's name. This can save a lot of money in attorneys' fees later.
Use of a mark is not a prerequisite for filing an application in most countries, but in some countries you do have to use your mark first. We can help you determine where an intent to use application is possible and can arrange for you to consult foreign counsel for more information. 
In some cases, international agreements make it easier to register your marks in other countries and regions.


The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) offers trademark protection in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

European Community Trade Mark

A European Community Trade Mark offers trademark protection in all of the member states of the European Union.  This unified system of protection throughout the European Union is provided with a single application recognized in all member states. As new member states are added to the EU, coverage automatically expands, without any action or payment on the part of the owner. The initial registration period is ten years from the date of filing of the application. Use in one country can satisfy use requirements, but opposition by a trademark owner in one country can impede an application. There is a mechanism for filing national applications, if a European-wide application is not possible.

Madrid Protocol

The Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol offer trademark protection in any of the countries the applicant designates that are party. The list is seemingly growing daily.


Africa has two organizations for regional trademark registration, the same as for patents: African Intellectual Property Organization and African Regional Industrial Property Organization.


The Andean Pact is an agreement among Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru that provides for a common trademark law among the member countries. While it does not provide for a single application, certain reciprocal rights are available upon request of a trademark owner having a registered mark in any of them. Use in one country constitutes use in all member countries, for example.

Paris Convention

The Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property is an international treaty for protection of intellectual property that has been adopted by 175 countries. Nationals of any of the countries are afforded the same advantages that the national law of any country grants its own citizens. This grants a right of priority to an application filed from a domestic application, if the right is claimed within a specified time limit. An applicant of a U.S. trademark application can apply within six months of the U.S. filing date for protection in any of the other countries that adhere to the Paris Convention, and these "convention" applications are regarded as having been filed on the same date as the U.S. filing date.