The grant and enforcement of patents are governed by national laws, and also by international treaties, where those treaties have been (given effect in national laws. Patents are, therefore, territorial in nature.
Commonly, a nation forms a patent office with responsibility for operating that nation’s patent system, within the relevant patent laws. The patent office generally has responsibility for the grant of patents, with in fragment being the remit of national courts.
There is a trend towards global harmonization of patent laws, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) being particularly active in this area.
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The TRIPs Agreement has been largely successful in providing a forum for nations to agree on an aligned set of patent laws. Conformity with the TRIPs agreement is a requirement of admission to the WTO and so compliance is seen by many nations as important.
This has also led to many developing nations, which may historically have developed different laws to aid their development, enforcing patents laws in line with global practice.
A key international convention relating to patents is the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, initially signed in 1883.
The Paris Convention sets out a range of basic rules relating to patents, and although the convention does not have direct legal effect in all national jurisdictions, the principles of the convention are incorporated into all notable current patent systems.
The most significant aspect of the convention is the provision of the right to claim priority: filing an application in any one member state of the Paris Convention preserves the right for one year to file in any other member state, and receive the benefit of the original filing date.
Because the right to a patent is intensely date-driven, this right is fundamental to modern patent usage.
In addition, there are international treaty procedures, such as the procedures under the European Patent Convention (EPC) [administer by the European Patent Organization Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (administered by WIPO and covering 140 countries), that centralize some portion of the filing and examination procedure.
Similar arrangements exist among the member states of ARIPO and OAPI, the analogous treaties among African countries, and the CIS member states that have formed the Eurasian Patent Organization.
The Patents Act, 1970, which is currently the law relating to paten in India, was promulgated to encourage scientific research new technology, and industrial progress.
This enactment is based on the U.K. Patents Act, 1949 in main respects, but also differs from it in relation to drugs, medicines, produce patents and licensing of patents.