The United States has joined the international system known as the Hague Agreement, making it easier for companies to obtain worldwide patent protection in more than 60 countries. The agreement provides applicants a streamlined filing procedure that may translate into filing efficiencies and cost savings but that may also present pitfalls.
Chris Gegg, partner in Alston & Bird’s Intellectual Property Group, noted that any company that jumps into the new system without a detailed strategy and counseling is bound to face problems.
“From a lot of the publicity about it, it sounds like the Hague Agreement system has a very good potential to simplify the process and reduce costs,” said Gegg. “But there are a lot of hidden difficulties to using the system without becoming familiar with it.”
Companies seeking protection in multiple countries can face the task of preparing a single application that details the specific requirements of several countries.
“It’s definitely going to require more effort up front to think about the different systems and what you’re trying to achieve in different jurisdictions,” he said. “It’s not as easy as it sounds, and a lot needs to be thought about beforehand. It is a great new application system, but you’ve got to figure out the right way to use it.”