The advantages of the Patent Cooperation Treaty
The PCT is an international treaty with more than 150 Contracting States. The PCT makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in a large number of countries by filing a single “international” patent application instead of filing several separate national or regional patent applications. The granting of patents remains under the control of the national or regional patent Offices in what is called the “national phase”.
The PCT System has many advantages for you as an applicant, for the patent Offices and for the general public:
You have up to 18 months more than if you had not used the PCT to reflect on the desirability of seeking protection in foreign countries, to appoint local patent agents in each foreign country, to prepare the necessary translations and to pay the national fees;
If your international application is in the form prescribed by the PCT, it cannot be rejected on formal grounds by any PCT Contracting State patent Office during the national phase of the processing of the application;
The international search report and written opinion contain important information about the potential patentability of your invention, providing a strong basis for you to make business decisions about how to proceed;
You have the possibility during the optional international preliminary examination to amend the international application, enter into dialogue with the examiner to fully argue your case and put the application in order before processing by the various national patent Offices;
The search and examination work of patent Offices in the national phase can be considerably reduced thanks to the international search report, the written opinion and, where applicable, the international preliminary report on patentability that accompany the international application;
You may be able to fast-track examination procedures in the national phase in Contracting States that have PCT-Patent Prosecution Highway (PCT-PPH) agreements or similar arrangements;
Since each international application is published together with an international search report, third parties are in a better position to evaluate the potential patentability of the claimed invention;
For you as an applicant, international publication online puts the world on notice of your invention. You may also highlight your interest in concluding licensing agreements on PATENTSCOPE, which can be an effective means of advertising and looking for potential licensees;
You also achieve other savings in document preparation, communication and translations because the work done during the international processing is generally not repeated before each Office (for example, you submit only one copy of the priority document instead of having to submit several copies); and
If your invention appears to be not patentable at the end of the international phase, you may abandon the PCT application and you will have saved the costs you would otherwise have incurred by directly seeking protection in foreign countries, appointing local patent agents in each foreign country, preparing the necessary translations and paying the national fees.
Ultimately, the PCT:
Brings the world within reach;
Streamlines the process of fulfilling diverse formality requirements;
Postpones the major costs associated with seeking multinational patent protection;
Provides a strong basis for patenting decisions; and
Is used by the world’s major corporations, research institutions and universities when they seek multinational patent protection.