Watson IP Group

Watson IP Group

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Are Us Patents Enforceable in Other Countries?

Typically, with some exceptions which exist in some rather rare occasions, a US patent provides protection in the US, only. So, the short answer is No. In other words, a US patent holder can stop others from making, using, selling, or offering to sell that which is covered in the patent in the US. This is often referred to as keeping others from practicing the invention.

What does this mean? For example a patent owner can prevent someone from selling the product in the US. In one example, a US business makes a product covered by a patent without authorization by the patent owner, and sells the product in the US. This activity can be stopped by the patent owner. If that same business sells products from the US to Canada, for example, the patent owner can stop this activity. That is because the sale happened in the US. Now, say for example, that a company imports into the US and then sells a product that is covered by a patent without authorization by the patent owner, the patent owner can stop this activity as well. This is because the “sale” happened in the US.

In other words, as long as one of the infringing activities of making, using, selling or offering to sell occur in the US, the rightful patent owner can stop such infringing activities in the US. This does not mean that all activities happen in the US, it is sufficient for one to occur in the US. For example, in a situation of importing, the product ends up in the US, from where it will be used, sold or offered for sale, any one of which is infringement.

It should also be noted that the protection extends to all of the territories of the US, such as Puerto Rico and Guam.

On the other hand, if a product is being made in, for example, Poland, and is sold to and used in, for example, Latvia, then there is nothing the patent owner of a US patent can do to stop such activity. Of course, the owner of the US patent can pursue foreign patent protection, and there are a number of strategies associated with the pursuit of foreign patent protection, then it is possible to obtain patents in other territories where activity outside of the US can be controlled through patent protection. However, the US patent will not have an effect in these foreign countries.

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