Goods are transported across the globe using, for example, container carriers. Large, centrally located airports and strategically positioned ports serve as important international hubs for incoming cargo ships and aircraft. At the hubs freight is reloaded and redistributed for transport to final destinations around the world. Such port and airport hubs are also the centralised point of entry for goods onto the regional markets. Goods entering the hub are offloaded and transported locally or regionally using, for example, trucks, rail or inland waterways.
Benefits of the globalized consumer market are evident to companies with an international focus. Opportunities for increased sales and profit by trading in a globalized world are appealing and readily adapted to. Unfortunately, the upside of globalization is also acknowledged by companies involved in unfair trade activities such as counterfeiting, piracy, parallel import and trading patent right-infringing products, semi-finished products and raw materials. Unlawful acts are applied in order to obtain a piece of the cake.
Conquering the threat of unfair trade requires a stringent and international IP rights strategy. In order to protect important markets abroad, enforceable patent rights are vital.
In Europe, patents should be applied for in economically important countries such as Germany, France and the Netherlands. Often foreign companies choose to apply for a European bundle patent. A European patent can be applied for directly or during the national or regional phase of an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). In many European countries, a national application can be applied for on the basis of a PCT application, although in some – including France, Belgium and the Netherlands – this national PCT route is closed. However, in the Netherlands, there is debate over reopening this PCT route. It is possible to request national patents in these countries within the priority year based on the Paris Convention.