Introduction to the Patent Cooperation Treaty

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Release time:2016-07-19

The PCT was concluded in 1970, amended in 1979, and revised in 1984 and 2001. The PCT is open to parties to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883). The instrument of ratification or accession must be deposited with the Director General of WIPO. Through the treaty, an applicant can simultaneously claim patent protection for an invention in each of a large number of countries by filing an "international" patent application. Such an application may be submitted by any person who is a national or resident of a Contracting State. Applications may generally be filed with the national patent office of the Contracting State of which the applicant is a national or resident, but the applicant may also choose to file an application with the WIPO International Bureau in Geneva. If the applicant is a national or resident of a Contracting State to the European Patent Convention, the Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs (the Harare Protocol), the Bangui Agreement relating to the Creation of the African Intellectual Property Organization, as amended, or the Eurasian Patent Convention, international applications may also be filed with the European Patent Office (EPO), the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO), the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) or the Eurasian Patent Office (EAPO).

The so-called "international search" of the international application is then required ". This search is conducted by one of the principal patent offices designated by the PCT Assembly as the International Searching Authority (ISA). This search will result in an "International Search Report", which extracts quotations from published documents that may have an impact on the patentability of the invention claimed in the international application. At the same time, the International Searching Unit shall prepare a written opinion on patentability.

The International Searching Unit will notify the applicant of the international search report and written opinion, and the applicant may decide to withdraw the application, especially if it is unlikely that a patent will be granted on the basis of the report or opinion.

If the international application is not withdrawn, it will be published by the International Bureau together with the international search report. Written comments are not published.

The procedure under the PCT is of great benefit to applicants, patent offices and the general public:

(I) the applicant has 18 months longer than he would have been in proceedings outside the PCT to consider whether he wishes to seek protection in a foreign country, to appoint a local patent attorney in each of the foreign countries, to prepare the necessary translations and to pay the national fee; and he is certain that, provided that his international application is filed in the form prescribed by the PCT, any designated office is at the national stage of processing the application, he may also, on the basis of the international search report or written opinion, assess with more certainty the chances of his invention being granted a patent; the applicant may also amend the international application during the international preliminary examination so that it meets the requirements before it is processed by the designated office;

(ii) the availability of the international search report, the written opinion and, where applicable, the international preliminary examination report attached to the international application can make the search and examination of patent offices significantly less labor-intensive or even virtually eliminated;

(iii) Since each international application is published with the international search report, third parties are also in a better position to form a well-founded opinion on the patentability of the claimed invention.

The PCT established a coalition. The league has a general assembly. Each Contracting State to the PCT is a member of the Assembly.

Some of the most important tasks of the Assembly are to amend the regulations established under the Treaty, to adopt the Union's biennial programme and budget, and to determine a number of costs associated with the use of the PCT system.