PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty)

The PCT is an international treaty with 153 Contracting States. Patent Cooperation Treaty, also referred to as PCT Applications facilitate innovators to obtain patent protection throughout the world. It allows the inventors to file a single patent application in their native language. Patent Cooperation Treaty encourages small businesses and inventors to seek patent protection abroad. It can be filed as a single patent application, called an “international application” by anyone who is a national or resident of a PCT contracting state. It is generally filed with the national patent office of the contracting state or with the WIPO as a receiving office.

The treaty helps in regulating the formal requirements that international applications must follow. It provides a longer period, that is, 30 months before the applicants must commit themselves to undertake the expenses of translation, national filing fees, and prosecution in every country in which they want protection for their invention. It also gives them time to choose the countries in which they will file the application and also evaluate the strength of the potential patent. Moreover, 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.

A PCT can benefit from an earlier application’s filing date in the following conditions:

A) the previous application was filed within 1 year or less of the PCT and,

B) There are no other applications filed earlier (in other words, it is a first-filed application).

Even if an inventor has applied more than 1 year before the PCT filing, as long as it has not published yet, the PCT can still be filed. The PCT application expires 2.5 years from the priority date.