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Priority gives you the right to take precedence over others: after you file your first application to patent an invention, you have the right to file a corresponding application within 12 months (the priority year), and claim priority from your first application. Priority means that your later application, when assessing novelty and inventive step, is regarded as having been filed at the same time as your first application.

The later application can be a national patent or utility model application, a European patent application, or an international PCT application. The priority year is calculated as follows: if the first application was filed on 1 September 2014, the later applications must be filed on 1 September 2015 at the latest.

You do not lose your priority, even if the first application is withdrawn, or its processing ceases during the priority year. All that is required is that a patent authority has recorded your application and given it a filing date.

Priority involves many advantages:

  • You do not need to file your applications in other countries on the same day you file your national Finnish application. You can wait (no longer than one year) and see if the PRH finds obstacles to granting a patent.
  • You can make your invention public after filing your national Finnish application, without fearing that doing so will pose an obstacle to a patent later on.
  • You gain the lead over other inventors who later on come up with the same invention.

Example 1:

  • You filed your first application in Finland on 2 May 2014, and you want to file a corresponding application in Germany.
  • Your competitor applies for a patent for the same invention in Germany on 6 June 2014.
  • When you file your application with the German office during the priority year, and claim priority from your Finnish application, your application is deemed to be an obstacle to your competitor’s application.
  • In this case, only you can be given a patent for this invention in Germany.

It is possible to claim priority from several earlier applications, provided you file the new application within the priority year. The later application based on priority may also differ from the first application, which enables you to complement your first application. However, priority only applies to those parts of the invention that were presented in the earlier application.

Example 2:

  • You want to gain quick protection for your invention, and you file a utility model application to the PRH on 1 December 2014.
  • You fine-tune your invention, complete the material and file a national Finnish patent application on 1 June 2015.
  • Your invention also has international potential, which is why you file a PCT application on 1 December 2015.
  • Priority has effect as follows: as of 1 June 2015, for the invention disclosed in the national Finnish application, and as of 1 December 2014, for the parts of the invention presented in the utility model application.

Further information:

Patenttikäsikirja (Patent manual) (pdf, 2.4 MB)(in Finnish; especially items A.2.11, B.2.1.7, E.3.1)

Priority is based on article 4 of the Paris Convention. For the article, go to the WIPO website.Open link in a new tab

In Finnish legislation, priority is defined by section 6 of the Patents Act. Further instructions on how to claim priority are included in sections 10 to 13 of the Patents Decree, and sections 45 to 48 of the Patent Regulations.Go to Legislation.

Printable version Latest update 19.12.2019