Is it better to patent an invention abroad too before presenting it to a foreign company?
Before selling or licensing the patent to foreign companies, the best thing to do is certainly extending it to their countries too, in order to avoid any lawsuits against the ever-ready swindlers. However, if you prefer not to invest in a foreign patent but still wish to try negotiating with these companies, it will be unavoidably necessary to show them the patent, enabling them to evaluate the potential interest in the purchase and thus negotiating a definite price.
In order not to fear too much you will need to know how much time has past since filing the application and if the advanced public accessibility has been requested. Indeed, if the application has been filed for more than three months and it is public, therefore known by everybody and belonging to the ”technical advantage”, even if the foreign company went to patent the same item in his country it would be null for lacking novelty.
If, on the other hand, this has been filed for less than three months and is not yet accessible to the public, then things change. In this case, as the application is still confidential, the company could very well validly patent it overseas, the only possibility of escape would be to extend it overseas within one year from filing it in Italy, by claiming the “priority”. This is though rather complex. In any case, it is always advisable to make them underwrite a letter of intent to include a confidentiality clause, so to disincentive them from doing any false moves and to have on hand a document with which claiming your rights.