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What is the “priority” principle?

The priority principle is a critical aspect of the patent and trademark application and granting system. In many countries, the first-to-file rule is utilized. If an applicant intends to acquire an intellectual property right in various countries in a timely manner, they need to apply to the relevant bodies in those countries as soon as possible. However, it can be challenging for applicants to apply to all countries simultaneously because it takes time to prepare and translate application documents, as well as to secure funds for application fees. In this situation, another party may file the same application preemptively, resulting in the applicant's loss of priority.

To address this issue, the Paris Convention established a priority system that provides applicants for inventions, utility models, industrial designs, or trademarks filed in one member country with priority when they file the same applications in other member countries within a specified time limit. In other words, the first filing date in one member country will be the priority date for any subsequent filings in other member countries. This data will be utilized as the start date for prior art searches and the grant of rights, regardless of whether another party files the same application within the mentioned time limit. For example, if an applicant files a patent application in a country on January 5, 2018, and files the same application in another member country on May 7, 2018, then January 5, 2018, will be the priority date for the subsequent filing.

The duration of priority periods varies based on the type of intellectual property being sought: 12 months for inventions and utility models and six months for industrial designs and trademarks.


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