Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Its main purpose is to streamline the process of filing patent applications in multiple countries. The PCT simplifies this process by providing a centralized application procedure that enables applicants to seek patent protection simultaneously in multiple countries by filing a single international patent application.

Here’s how it generally works:

Filing: The applicant files an international patent application with a receiving office, usually the national patent office of their own country or a regional patent office.

International Search: The international application undergoes an international search carried out by one of the authorized International Searching Authorities (ISAs). The ISA provides a report detailing the relevant prior art related to the invention.

International Publication: The international application is then published, along with the search report, by WIPO.

Optional International Preliminary Examination: The applicant may choose to request an international preliminary examination (IPE) to obtain a preliminary and non-binding opinion regarding the patentability of the invention.

National Phase: After the international phase, the applicant has the option to enter the national phase by filing patent applications in the countries where they seek protection. This is usually within 30 months of the priority date.

The PCT doesn’t grant patents itself. Instead, it facilitates the process of seeking patent protection in multiple countries. It provides a mechanism for applicants to delay the decision of in which specific countries they want to seek patent protection while obtaining an international patent search report and an initial assessment of patentability.

Overall, the PCT simplifies and reduces the cost of the patent application process for inventors and businesses seeking international patent protection. It’s widely used by applicants looking to protect their inventions globally.