What is the “nationaltreatment” principle?
The principle of national treatment is a fundamental aspect of international IP protection. Essentially, this principle dictates that a country should provide the same level of protection for foreign nationals' IP as it does for its own citizens. However, this is typically only extended to nationals of countries that are party to international IP treaties, such as the Paris Convention. It's worth noting that even if a foreigner is not a national of a Paris Convention member, they may still receive national treatment if they have some connection to a member country, such as a valid business or residence there.
While national treatment extends to foreign nationals on some substantive issues, such as IP protection, there are procedural distinctions between foreign and domestic applicants. For example, foreign nationals without a fixed residence or business premises in the country where they file their patent application must use a patent agency, whereas nationals do not. This procedural distinction exists to account for the difficulty of serving documents to foreign nationals and their general lack of familiarity with the country's laws.