As per Section 39 of the Indian Patent Act, 1970, in cases where the inventor is an Indian resident and wants to file a first patent application in foreign country without filing in India, it is mandatory for the inventor to obtain a Foreign Filing License (FFL) from the Indian Patent Office (IPO), wherein a written permission from the IPO is issued to the Indian inventor.

Amongst other advantages related to obtaining FFL, the most important one is that the mandatory requirement of first filing a patent application in India is waived-off, allowing Indian residents to directly file a patent application outside India for an invention. The decision to file first patent application to foreign countries rather than filing in India can be:

  • the subject matter of the invention is nonpatentable as per 1Section 3 of Indian Patent Act, 1970; and
  • the invention holds no potential in Indian market.

Another important reason for obtaining FFL is for the protection of national security. There are several technologies which are used in defense agencies related to the military purposes and if exported, it can be detrimental to the safety of the country. The grant of a Foreign Filing License provides a goahead from the government ensuring that the technology disclosed in the patent application does not belong to a sensitive matter like defense or atomic energy. 2Section 39: Residents not to apply for patents outside India without prior permission:

  • No person who is resident in India shall, except under the authority of a written permit sought in the manner prescribed and granted by or on behalf of the Controller, make or cause to be made, any application outside India for the grant of a patent for an invention unless - (a) an application for a patent for the same invention has been made in India, not less than six weeks before the application outside India; and (b) either no direction has been given under subsection (1) of Section 35 in relation to the application in India, or all such directions have been revoked.
  • The Controller shall dispose-off every such application within such period as may be prescribed, provided that if the invention is relevant for defence purpose or atomic energy, the Controller shall not grant permit without the prior consent of the Central Government.
  • This Section shall not apply in relation to an invention for which an application for protection has first been filed in a country outside India by a person residing outside India.

3Rule 71: Permission for making patent application outside India under Section 39

  • The request for permission for making patent application outside India shall be made in Form 25.
  • The time within which the Controller disposesoff the request made under sub-rule (1), except in case of inventions relating to defence and atomic energy applications, shall ordinarily be within a period of 21 days from the date of filing of such request.

FFL can be obtained by disclosing the subject matter of the invention to the Indian Patent Office (IPO) along with a request made through Form 25. Once the request has been made, the IPO generally grants permission within 21 days from the date of making the request.

4Requisite documents required to file FFL are as follows:

  • Form 25- Application for permission for making Patent Application outside India.
  • Disclosure of the invention, along with the Foreign Filing License (FFL) form
  • Name and addresses of inventor(s) who are resident of India.
  • Name of the countries in which the invention would be filed and reason for making such an application.
  • Name and addresses of assignee, if any.
  • The name of the country/countries in which the patent application is expected to be filed after obtaining the Foreign Filing License (FFL) from the Indian Patent Office.
  • Power of Attorney from the inventor(s) or the patent applicant who are resident in India, where a patent agent is appointed to represent them before the Indian Patent Office.
  • Form 28- In case the applicant is a Small Entity.






The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.