A brief explanation of international trade agreements and how they affect exporters. This information is part of "A Basic Guide to Exporting" provided by the U.S. Commercial Service to assist U.S. companies in exporting.
Last Published: 7/9/2016
The oldest treaty relating to patents, trademarks, and unfair competition is the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. The U.S. and more than 160 other countries are parties to this treaty. The Paris Convention sets minimum standards of protection and provides two important benefits: the right of national treatment and the right of priority.

National treatment under the Paris Convention means that a signatory country will not discriminate against nationals of another signatory country in granting patent or trademark protection. The rights provided by a foreign country may be greater or less than those provided under U.S. law, but the rights provided will be the same as those that the country provides to its own citizens.

The Paris Convention’s right of priority allows the applicant 1 year from the date of the first patent application filed in a Paris Convention country (6months for a design or trademark) in which to file in other countries. This means that after the firstfiling, neither publication nor sale of an invention will jeopardize patent ability in countries that grant a right of priority to U.S. applicants, as long as their application is submitted before the end of the priority period.
 
First Signed in 1883 and today enforced by the World Intellectual Porperty Oraganiztion, the Paris Convention is todat one of the World's most wide;y adopted treaties.
Not all countries adhere to the Paris Convention, but similar benefits may be available under another treaty or bilateral agreement. These substantive obligations have been incorporated into the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) and are binding on WTO members.The U.S. is also a party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which provides procedures for filing patent applications in its member countries. The PCT allows you to file one “international” application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to designate member countries in which a patent is sought. Filing the international application extends by 18 months the period in which you may fulfill the national requirements for each country.

The U.S. is also a party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which provides procedures for filing patent applications in its member countries. The PCT allows you to file one “international” application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to designate member countries in which a patent is sought. Filing the international application extends by 18 months the period in which you may fulfill the national requirements for each country.

Additionally, the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs (also known as the Hague system) allows for registration of up to 100 industrial designs in member countries. You can apply using a single application, and in a single language.
 
The Paris Convention helps with patent and trademark protection because signatory counties are not allowed to discriminate against each others’ companies.

The U.S. is also a member of the Madrid system for the international registration of marks, which allows for filing of trademark protection in member countries. Contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to file a patent, trademark, or design registration application outside the U.S.




International Agreements