International Patent Applications

People, multi-national firms, research institutions, and universities take patent protection for protecting their inventions from being copied. Since patent protection is specific to jurisdiction, it only gives protection for the country in which it is filed. The International Patent Application, also known as PCT application is a single application filed at one of the international receiving offices that grants the applicant the right to file future national patent applications in any of the contracting states. You can file an International Patent Application if you are a national or resident of a PCT Contracting State. It can be filed, in most cases, with your national patent Office, or directly with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) if allowed by your State’s national security provisions. Both of those Offices act as PCT “receiving Offices”.

An International Patent Application is similar to a provisional patent application in the sense that it secures a priority date from which additional applications may be filed. It doesn’t mature into a patent. At its most basic, an International Patent Application functions as a placeholder in time allowing you to postpone the expense of filing individual national patent applications in each of the countries for which you want to pursue protection. By filing an International Patent Application you incur a single initial filing fee, but postpone all of the additional expenses of the national patent process for approximately 30 months from the application’s priority date. 

An international search report and written opinion accompany the International patent application. It contains important information about the potential patentability of the invention, providing a strong basis for the inventor to make business decisions about how to proceed. Because of this, patent offices can reduce or virtually remove the work involved in examining and searching for a patent application. Additionally, since the international search report is published with the international application, the third parties can examine better and form a better opinion on whether the invention can be patented or not. The patent examiner will be able to give a non-binding opinion on the patentability of the claims. If the international publication is online, an inventor can be benefitted since the world can take notice of the invention.

When the applicant files the International Patent Application at the regional patent office or directly at international authority, the application is examined by the ISA (International Search Authority) whether it should be patented or not and published in international journals so that whole world will know about the invention and oppositions can be filed from all over the world.