PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) patents are made possible by the Cooperation Treaty signed by 148 countries around the world. PCTs enables applicants to seek temporary protection for an invention patent in a large number of countries simultaneously, by filing a single “international” application, rather than multiple applications in each individual country.
The granting of patents remains under the control of national or regional Patent Offices, in what is known as the “national phase“.
International patent applications can be filed at the WIPO International Office in Geneva or at the National Patent Office of the applicant’s country of nationality or residence.
Apart from the application itself, the process for obtaining a PCT patent requires the applicant to include a description, one or more claims, one or more drawings (if required), as well as an abstract.
At this stage, all international applications are investigated in order to determine if any prior patents exist. Within 18 months of the priority date, the application will be published by the International Office.
During the international phase, the applicant is given the possibility to request a preliminary examination of their patent application. The outcome of this examination is not binding, but it gives the applicant an opportunity to make any necessary amendments based on the objections raised in the international examination report.
Within 30 months of the priority date, the applicant can decide to withdraw or confirm his/her application in one or more of the countries adhering to the International Convention (national or regional phase). This process requires the patent application and examination report to be forwarded to each national patent Office chosen by the applicant. Each country will decide, according to its own regulations, whether or not to grant the patent.
An international application will produce the same effects as a national one, in all designated countries.