Foreign Filing License (FFL)

Foreign Filing License (FFL)/Permission under Section 39 of Indian Patent Act, 1970

Patent provides monopoly rights to the inventors/patentees for a limited period of time and excluding others from its commercial exploitation. Since, patent rights are conferred by the state to the benefit of the inventors/patentees; however, it imposes certain duties over the inventors.

Patent rights are enacted for encouraging technological development in the country along with welfare of its public. Like other laws, the interest of country has to be given utmost priority. The Indian Patent Law imposes duty upon its residents to obtain permission to file an application in foreign country in certain situations which are enshrined in section 39 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970.

Section 39 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970, requires an Indian resident to obtain a foreign filing license (FFL) from Indian Patent Office (IPO) before it is filed before any foreign patent office. Such foreign filing license (FFL) is mandatory for Indian residents in case:

  • If the Indian resident wants to apply for Patent in foreign country before applying for patent in India; or
  • If the Indian resident wants to apply for patent in foreign before the expiry of six (6) weeks from the date of filing patent application in India.

In case where the application for patent has already been filed before Indian Patent Office (IPO) and a period of six (6) weeks has been elapsed; then foreign filing license (FFL) is not required.

Foreign filing licenses (FFLs) are generally granted within few days e.g., a week or two; however, as per the rule a foreign filing license (FFL) has to be granted within a period of twenty-one (21) days.

Foreign filing license (FFL) is required mainly to restrict dissemination of inventions which are important to national security and interest e.g., invention which may be useful for strengthening defense system or international presence e.g., inventions related to atomic energy. Therefore, Indian residents are required to disclose inventions before Indian Patent Office (IPO) and get the required permission i.e., foreign filing license (FFL) before filing before foreign patent offices.

Requirement of a foreign filing license (FFL) is a mandatory provision, contravention of the same is followed by punishment. Section 118 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970, provides punishment for contravention of section 39.

We at Delhi IP have our Patent Attorneys who can help you in obtaining foreign filing license (FFL) as early as possible to enable you to file your foreign application at earliest.

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