A Brazilian patent publication has provided the public with its first opportunity to view the new BMW X7 which is set to go on sale later this year.

Car manufacturers go to great lengths to disguise their new models during on road testing prior to launch. But on this occasion those efforts were somewhat in vain as computer design images of the vehicle had already been revealed via an intellectual property filing.

Patent applications generally publish 18 months after the filing of the application in the first country (that is, 18 months from the priority date). Once your patent application is filed, if you want to stop it from publishing in accordance with the statutory schedule, in almost every circumstance your only option is to withdraw the entire application. It is important to keep this in mind when deciding when to file. File too early and you reveal your hand too early; file too late and you risk someone else filing a conflicting application before yours.

Registered Design applications (Design patents, in US parlance) have different publication schedules depending on jurisdiction.  In some jurisdictions, such as the EU and the UK, Registered Designs can publish within a matter of days of filing (unless you explicitly request deferred publication and pay an associated fee).

Two things to note:

1. Remember when you file for IP that it will publish and in most circumstances you can't control the timing.

2. You can use patent publications to find out about competitor activities because patent and design applications are sometimes the first place new products and new functionality are revealed.