International patent

IP Australia staff member on the phone in our conference rooms

There is no such thing as a 'international patent' but you can get patents granted in a number of different countries and protect your invention in important export markets.

A Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application is a useful way to apply for patents in a number of different countries simultaneously.

An Australian patent provides protection only within Australia.  To obtain similar protection in other countries you generally have two choices:

  • File separate patent applications in each country.  This can be cost effective when you file in only a few countries.
  • File a single international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) which is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). These types of applications are sometimes called "PCT applications". This path gives your application automatic effect in 148 countries and allows you further time to decide whether you want to pursue patent protection and in which countries.

Whichever option you choose, you will still end up with separate patent applications in each county.  The PCT is simply a method of facilitating the filing of a patent application in a number of countries simultaneously and all patent rights are granted by national or regional patent systems.  WIPO maintains a directory of international IP offices.

You can find more information about applying for a PCT application in our International Patents Guide.


The PCT is an international treaty administered by the International Bureau (IB) of the WIPO, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  The main purpose of the PCT system is to provide unified, simple patent application procedure for filing in multiple counties.

For more information regarding the PCT visit the WIPO website and view the PCT Applicant's Guide.

Last Updated: 20/11/2014

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