There is no “worldwide patent”. Ultimately, one needs to seek patent protection in each jurisdiction separately. One of the most common paths to seek patent protection internationally is to start with filing an Australian provisional patent application. An Australian provisional patent application provides you with an internationally recognised priority date.
Within 12 months from filing the Australian provisional patent application, a complete application is required to be filed. When seeking international patent protection, this complete application may either be in the form of “convention” applications filed into one or more international jurisdictions, for example, the USA, China and Europe.
Alternatively, and more commonly, an international “PCT” application is filed. The international patent application provides an approximately 18 month international search and preliminary examination processes which provides you with an official report as to the likely patentability of your invention.
During this process you have an opportunity to amend the patent specification and claims. At the end of the international process or stage, national stage entries are filed into the desired jurisdictions. These jurisdictions include all major trading partners including the USA, Japan, China and Europe. Once national stage entries are filed, each application then proceeds independently before the respective national patent offices.
One of the main advantages of the PCT application is the ability to defer major costs and defer the selection of jurisdiction in which you are seeking patent protection for an approximately 18 month period. Furthermore, you obtain an official examination as to the likely patentability of your invention and can make further commercial decisions on that basis.