1. Laying the groundwork
In 1873 the Government of the Empire of Austria-Hungary invited other countries to an international exhibition of inventions held at Vienna. However, many inventors declined to exhibit their inventions at that exhibition, due to the inadequate legal protection offered. This led to two notable developments: first, Austria passed a law, securing temporary protections for all foreigners participating in the exhibition for their inventions, trademarks and industrial designs. Second, the Congress of Vienna for Patent Reform was convened later that year. As a follow-up to the Vienna Congress, an International Congress on Industrial Property was convened in Paris in 1878. The main result of which, was the drive toward “determining the basis of uniform legislation” in the field of industrial property.
2. The first international IP convention
In 1883 in Paris, The International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property was first signed by an initial 11 states. It has since come to be known as the Paris Convention.
3. Revisions and amendments
Since then it has been revised 6 times, at: Brussels in 1900, at Washington in 1911, at The Hague in 1925, at London in 1934, at Lisbon in 1958 and at Stockholm in 1967, and was amended in 1979.
4. A union of patenting authorities
Countries that signed the Paris Convention formed a “Union” of patenting authorities, and are sometimes referred to as the “Paris Union.”
5. Key tenets
Three main provisions were established with the Paris Convention: right to national treatment, right of priority, common rules and a unified framework for the implementation of the convention.
6. No preferential treatment
With national treatment, Paris Union countries are obligated to show no preferential treatment to patent holders who are citizens over those who are not. Patent holders who are non-residents and non-nationals of a Paris Union country are given the same expectations and rights under the law as nationals of said country.
7. International filing challenge
Before the Paris Convention, patent applications had to be made roughly at the same time in all countries where protections were sought, in order to avoid a publication in one country destroying the novelty of the invention in the other countries.
8. International filing solution
With the Paris Convention, the right of priority means that a patent that has been filed in a home country is allocated a 12-month period to file a Paris Convention application (or a direct national filing application claiming priority) in countries party to the Paris Convention. With this application Patent holders can choose to file directly with national or regional patent offices with Paris Convention priority (i.e. recognition of the initial priority date in their home country as the priority date).
9. Current contracting parties
There are currently 177 total contracting parties to the convention. The most recent countries to enforce are Samoa (2013), Kuwait (2014), and Afghanistan (2017).
10. Not to be confused with PCT
The Paris Convention is not to be confused with the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT is also an international treaty, whereby applicants file once and within 12 months can file a PCT filing to preserve protections in other countries. The difference being that the PCT is equivalent to filing separate patent applications in each specific PCT country. With the PCT, patent holders have about 30 months (depending on the country) to bring the patent to National Phase and validate the patent in the specific PCT countries.