patents were filed earlier in other countries, and so it may be
important to obtain the original foreign patent. Obtaining copies
of foreign patents is more difficult than getting US patents -
in general, there are few free searchable databases. 180 countries
are members of WIPO - the World
Intellectual Property Organization. These countries have signed
the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) which affords patent recognition
in all member countries if a patent is filed according to the PCT rules.
To quote from the PCT site:
Patent Cooperation Treaty simplifies and reduces the cost of
obtaining international patent protection and facilitates public
access to a wealth of technical information relating to inventions.
By filing one international patent application under the PCT
you can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in over
one hundred countries, including developing countries, throughout
Unfortunately, the PCT system is
all about filing, and not about access.