You can protect your invention abroad by filing an application either directly with the patent office of the country that the holder is interested in, or through the international patent system, namely the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) which includes more than 150 countries.
To preserve the priority date, the foreign application or PCT application must be filed within 12 months from the filing date of the national application.
When you file the international application using the PCT system, it will be possible to obtain legal protection of your invention in all PCT member countries.
The PCT encompasses the filing of applications for patents for inventions, inventors’ certificates, utility certificates, utility models, and various kinds of patents and patents of addition.
The international phase includes the filing of an international application, establishing an international search report and a written opinion, publication of the application by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and (optional) international preliminary examination.
The international phase of the procedure makes it possible for an applicant to have an understanding of the invention’s patentability and the feasibility of further examination of the application in choosing countries.
The national phase consists of filing an application with the patent offices in the countries where the applicant wishes to have a patent. The deadline for filing a national application is generally 30-31 months from the priority date.
Therefore, the applicant has 18-19 months more for filing national applications if the application was filed using the PCT system. If you do not have a PCT application but have a national application filed in your country you only have 12 months to file your application in other countries using the convention priority.