Option 1: PCT international extension
If you have already filed a patent application in France or in Europe, you have 12 months to extend your patent application internationally.
This date cannot be extended. If you miss this deadline, then it will no longer be possible to go international with your patent.
You are not sure which countries do you want to extend your patent to? The PCT international extension allows you to gain an additional 18 months to think before designating the countries. At YesMyPatent, we like to say that with a PCT you “buy time”.
A French or European filing followed by a PCT gives you a total of 30 months (12 months + 18 months) to identify your intended markets, possible partnerships, competitors and choose the countries to protect. A PCT is like an option for 153 countries, an option that you can exercise within 18 months: this step is called entering the national phase.
Thus there is no “international patent” but only “international patent applications”, which after 18 months can become Chinese, American, South African patent applications…
Once the 18 months deadline has passed and the phase entry has been made in the chosen countries, it is not possible to go back, nor to add countries (except Europe for one more month).
If after 18 months you do not choose any country, you have no international patent or protection. This will not affect the procedure of your initial French or European patent which can be granted normally.
Option 2: International priority application
You can file a PCT application directly, without first filing an application in France or in Europe, provided that you obtain prior approval from the Direction Générale de l’Armement. This PCT application will give you 18 months to choose the countries of interest, among the 153 countries forming the PCT contracting states to date.