Published 12/01/2017 by
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is a treaty that allows for the facilitation of filing a patent application in multiple countries that cooperate with the PCT. Instead of requiring an applicant to file a patent application for each country, the PCT allows the applicant to start the international application process, file a single application, and apply it to all relevant countries.
What is it?
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is a treaty that allows for the facilitation of filing a patent application in multiple countries that cooperate with the PCT. Instead of requiring an applicant to file a patent application for each country, the PCT allows the applicant to start the international application process, file a single application, and apply it to all relevant countries. Several benefits afforded to applicants by the PCT include a formalities check, an international search and an optional supplementary international search, an optional international preliminary examination, and an automatic deferral of national processing. These options provide an application with more time and a better idea of whether or not it’s advisable to file an application, and in which countries.
It is important to note that there is no such thing as an international patent, only international patent applications. The PCT procedure does not allow an applicant to receive a “global patent” of sorts that applies to all relevant national Offices. The PCT procedure merely simplifies the process of applying for a patent in multiple countries through the use of an international application process. As detailed below, the international application is sent to each national Office, where it will be either approved or rejected on a country-by-country basis. Use of the PCT, however, still carries a number of advantages, and should certainly be considered if an applicant plans on working towards receiving recognition for a patent in multiple countries.
What can it be applied to?
The international application process can only be applied to the protection of content tha falls under the category of “inventions”. This pertains to inventions, inventors’ certificates, utility certificates, utility models, and several other kinds of patents and certificates. Essentially, if an applicant wishes to file for something that falls outside the scope of “inventions,” such as for a design patent, the applicant cannot do so under the PCT.
How does it work?
The PCT procedure has two different phases, informally referred to as the International Phase and National Phase. The international application process begins in the International Phase, and then (if the results of the international application are favorable) through the National Phase of the relevant countries. The International Phase consists of five parts, three of which are required. The three required steps involve: 1) filing the international application and having it processed by the “receiving Office” (usually the PCT office of the inventor’s native country); 2) the preparation of an international search report and written opinion by an “International Search Authority”; and 3) the publication of the international application with the international search report. This publication is then sent by the International Bureau to the national Offices where the applicant wishes to have a patent granted.
The optional fourth and fifth steps are additional procedures that happen concurrently with step three. Should they be utilized, the resulting reports are sent along with everything else by the International Bureau to the relevant national Offices. The fourth step includes conducting a supplementary international search, carried out by one of several International Search Authorities that were not involved in the primary international search. These supplementary searches result in supplementary search reports, which may also be sent to the relevant national Offices during the third step. The fifth step involves an “International Preliminary Examination” which results in an international preliminary report on patentability. The report analyzes aspects of the invention and determines the general patentability of the invention. If conducted, this report is also sent to the relevant national Offices during the third step.
In order to proceed to the National Phase, the applicant must also take several additional actions in each of the relevant national Offices. These include paying required national fees, providing the Offices with applicable translations of the application, and appointing a patent agent where required. If these steps are not completed within the specified time restraints in a particular national Office, the application is no longer relevant in that Office.
Upon completing the required steps for each relevant national Office, those Offices then examine the application and either grant or refuse the national patent to the applicant. This is where the application is in the National Phase. An application can proceed into the National Phase in some countries while remaining in the International Phase in others, usually if the applicant began the filing process for an application in a specific country before utilizing the PCT. Be aware that subsequent changes to the application in the International Phase will not retroactively affect applications that are already in the National Phase. Applying those changes to applications in the National Phase require the applicant to directly change the national application(s).
Why is it beneficial?
There are several benefits to using the PCT procedure. The largest benefit, however, is the simplification of the international patent application process for the applicant. The PCT allows the applicant to file the international application in one place, in one language, and pay one set of fees. This application is then recognized in all relevant national Offices, and so the applicant does not have to file a separate application for each Office (as would be the case without the PCT).
Most countries that use the PCT have a national Patent Office where the applicant can file the international patent application. This allows an applicant to remain in his or her native country throughout the process and localizes the applicant’s efforts in one place. This localization benefit also allows the applicant to file the application under one language accepted by the Office (which usually ends up being the native language of the applicant) and have the fees paid using one currency, thus avoiding currency exchange difficulties that would otherwise result. The required forms are also standardized under the PCT, allowing applicants to fill out a single set of forms and not worry about dealing with different forms used by different national Offices.
Chances of patentability
Additionally, search and opinion reports produced by the International Phase of the international application process assist the applicant in making decisions regarding whether it is worth prosecuting the application and where. Again, this saves a considerable amount of time and effort on behalf of the applicant, as a centralized report avoids the need to have searches and opinions conducted in each relevant national Office. The option to have supplementary searches conducted by International Search Authorities other than the one who carried out the main search increases the value of the PCT even further. Supplementary searches may provide the applicant with a much clearer picture of relevant prior art and allow the applicant to better determine the chances of successfully patenting the invention under consideration.
The extra time afforded to the applicant by using the PCT is also a very valuable benefit. Most national Offices under the PCT allow for 30 months from the priority date before the application must enter the National Phase. This considerably long grace period in the International Phase gives the applicant time to examine and consider the results of searches and opinions provided by the International Search Authorities, as well as assess the international technical and economic climate. It is then that the applicant can decide which countries are worth the time and cost commitment of applying for a national patent, and save on translation, agent, and filing costs in those that are not.
Another benefit is that a favorable international search report will carry considerable weight when the applicant enters the National Phase and attempts to acquire a national patent for an invention. The benefit of a favorable international preliminary report on patentability (if the applicant chose to have one conducted) is even greater. If the report is only partly favorable, the applicant has the opportunity to modify the claims in the application to focus on the aspects that were favorable. If the report is entirely unfavorable, the applicant can choose not to proceed any further, saving a considerable amount of time and money.
What is included in an international application?
The elements of an international application are, in order: a PCT request, description, claim(s), abstract, and drawing(s). Drawings are usually necessary to the understanding of an invention, but certain inventions may not need them.
The request is essentially a petition for the international application to be processed under the PCT. It is similar to the Application Data Sheet that is filed with non-provisional utility patents to the USPTO, but also includes additional items such as the applicant’s choice of International Searching Authority.
The description for an international application is almost identical to the description for any utility application filed with the USPTO. As described by WIPO, “the description must disclose the invention in a manner sufficiently clear and complete for it to be carried out by a person skilled in the art.” There is an accepted order to the (six) sections of the description, which should contain the following headings: “Technical Field,” “Background Art,” “Disclosure of Invention,” “Brief Description of Drawings,” “Best Mode for Carrying Out the Invention,” and “Industrial Applicability.”
The claims for an international application, like the description, are the same as the claims for non-provisional utility applications filed with the USPTO. As described by the WIPO, “the claim or claims must ‘define the matter for which protection is sought.’”
Drawings are included in an international application when they are required. As described by the WIPO, drawings must be included “when they are necessary for the understanding of the invention.” It is also important to note that any designated Office may require the applicant to file drawings during the National Phase, even if they weren’t required during the International Phase.
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)7/23/2021 4:12:50 PM
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)7/16/2021 5:00:45 PM
Buy me a ring, darling
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)7/7/2021 2:52:33 PM
Offensiveness vs Free Speech in Trademark Law
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)6/25/2021 4:45:12 PM
Woof Woof - Trademark Law
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)6/18/2021 5:29:44 PM
Forum Selection 101
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)6/11/2021 4:23:58 PM
Willful v Innocent
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)5/17/2021 2:38:30 PM
Thryv, Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies, LP
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)4/23/2021 5:34:02 PM
Oracle Patent Problems
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)4/5/2021 5:38:23 PM
Blockchain and the Expanding US Patent Landscape
CIONCA IP TEAM (MC)3/24/2021 2:19:11 PM
Invention and Art Analogy
CIONCA IP TEAM (BR)1/19/2021 4:57:54 PM
QuikTrip West, Inc. v. Weigel Stores, Inc.
CIONCA IP TEAM (AP)12/7/2020 4:06:28 PM
St Jude Medical LLC v Snyders Heart Valve LLC
CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)12/1/2020 5:07:58 PM
Allen v. Cooper, Governor of North Carolina
CIONCA IP TEAM (JM)10/8/2020 2:57:24 PM
Royal Crown Company Inc., Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc., v The Coca-Cola Company
CIONCA IP TEAM (SG)10/6/2020 2:42:35 PM
Apple, Inc., v. Voip-Pal.com, Inc.: Sanction Orders and Obviousness
CIONCA IP Team (SE)9/16/2020 4:21:45 PM
CIONCA IP Launches New Online Patent Website
CIONCA IP Team9/15/2020 5:11:49 PM
Comparing Apples to Apples: TTAB on In re Horizon Group USA, Inc.
CIONCA IP Team9/3/2020 4:30:41 PM
D2 Holdings v. House of Cards
CIONCA IP Team8/31/2020 12:09:17 PM
Blackbird Tech LLC, DBA Blackbird Technologies, v. Fitbit, Inc., Wahoo Fitness LLC: Obviousness
CIONCA IP Team8/11/2020 11:56:24 AM
Adidas AG v. Nike INC.
CIONCA IP Team7/20/2020 7:40:21 PM
Fitbit Inc. v. Valencell Inc.: Joint Parties in IPR Proceeding
CIONCA IP Team7/14/2020 7:51:31 PM
CIONCA IP Launches New Online Trademark Website
CIONCA IP 5/19/2020 7:36:30 PM
Uber Technologies, Inc. v. X One, Inc.: “Obvious to Try” Rationale
Marin Cionca4/15/2020 4:41:43 PM
The Day After COVID-19 Pandemic – Hope or Fear?
CIONCA IP4/13/2020 9:33:36 PM
Two of a Kind: TTAB on Shannon DeVivo v. Celeste Ortiz
CIONCA IP3/16/2020 8:43:10 PM
GS CleanTech Corporation v. Adkins Energy, LLC: Inequitable Conduct
CIONCA IP3/10/2020 7:45:30 PM
Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Google LLC, Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Mobile Inc.
Marin Cionca2/9/2020 7:46:10 PM
Analogous Prior Art or Not? A critical patent obviousness question
CIONCA IP 1/15/2020 4:47:19 PM
FOX Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC: Presumption of Nexus
CIONCA IP 1/9/2020 4:43:58 PM
The Bigger Picture: TTAB’s Decision in In re James Haden, M.D., P.A.
CIONCA IP 12/31/2019 4:29:41 PM
The Chamberlain Group, INC. v. One World Technologies, INC.
Marin Cionca12/9/2019 8:07:20 PM
A “glove” approach to patent claim construction
11/15/2019 8:15:11 PM
Liqwd, Inc. v. L’Oreal USA, Inc.: Objective Indicia and Copying
CIONCA IP10/16/2019 1:28:13 PM
To Use or Not to Use: The Statutory Period of Trademark Nonuse Prior to Presumed Abandonment
CIONCA IP10/7/2019 5:44:50 PM
A Decision in Henny Penny Corporation v. Frymaster LLC
Marin Cionca9/27/2019 9:32:48 PM
Can an Online Patent Attorney File My Patent?
CIONCA Team Member9/4/2019 7:20:46 PM
Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co. v. International Trade Commission: Objective Boundaries
CIONCA Team Member8/19/2019 7:46:17 PM
In re Yarnell Ice Cream, LLC: Trademark Descriptiveness and Acquired Distinction
CIONCA Team Member8/5/2019 2:29:33 PM
Is Speculation Enough Evidence for an Appeal?: General Electric Company v. United Technologies Corporation
CIONCA Team Member7/5/2019 2:22:42 PM
In re: Global IP Holdings LLC: Broadening Claims Through Reissue Applications
CIONCA Team Member6/27/2019 7:41:52 PM
Obviousness in a Single Prior Art Instance: Game and Technology Co., LTD., v. Activision Blizzard INC., Riot Games, INC.
Marin Cionca6/11/2019 8:43:17 PM
Can I Successfully License My Invention?
CIONCA Team Member5/20/2019 8:25:57 PM
PTAB Designates Cases as Precedential
CIONCA Team Member5/7/2019 7:13:41 PM
The Federal Circuit Defines a Technological Invention
Marin Cionca4/17/2019 3:48:33 PM
What Qualifies as Proper Use in Commerce Claim in a USPTO Trademark Application?
CIONCA Team Member4/3/2019 7:25:37 PM
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Designates Three Decisions Precedential
CIONCA Team Member3/21/2019 3:49:43 PM
Defining Inherency: A Decision in Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc.
Marin Cionca3/1/2019 9:36:50 PM
USPTO Director Andrei Iancu Visits Orange County!
CIONCA Team Member2/19/2019 7:12:46 PM
Revised Guidance by USPTO on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility and Examining Computer-Implemented Functional Claims
CIONCA Team Member2/5/2019 7:22:27 PM
TiVo Puts Tivoli on Pause: TTAB’s Decision in TiVo Brands LLC v. Tivoli, LLC
Marin Cionca1/23/2019 9:45:30 PM
Patent Law Alert: All Sales of the Invention, Including Secret Sales May Invalidate a Patent
CIONCA Team Member1/4/2019 4:12:21 PM
In re: Tropp: New Matter in a Continuation Can Be Relevant to Written Description Requirement
CIONCA Team Member12/18/2018 6:12:48 PM
Schlafly v. The Saint Louis Brewery: The Registration of Merely a Surname
Marin Cionca12/8/2018 8:35:06 PM
IP Assets - Procurement, Enforcement, Monetization
CIONCA Team Member11/19/2018 1:07:51 PM
The Appeals Process
CIONCA Team Member10/16/2018 6:50:31 PM
A Double-Edged Sword: Benefit of Priority or Longer Patent Term
Marin Cionca10/1/2018 7:42:12 PM
Can I Register a Color as a Trademark or Service Mark?
CIONCA Team Member9/17/2018 4:33:20 PM
Trademarks and Likelihood of Confusion: Federal Circuit’s Decision in In re: Detroit Athletic Co.
Staff8/31/2018 7:26:58 PM
Patent Claim Interpretation By Federal Circuit's on Facebook's Contiguous Image Layout
Staff8/16/2018 4:24:01 PM
Correcting or Changing a Patent After Issue Through the Central Reexamination Unit
Marin Cionca7/31/2018 6:50:05 PM
My patent expired? Can I still sue for patent infringement?
7/3/2018 7:44:33 PM
Impax Laboratories Inc. v Lannett Holdings Inc. on Claim Invalidation
CIONCA IP5/17/2018 9:54:58 PM
Marin Cionca Presents at OCIPLA May 2018 Luncheon
5/4/2018 7:37:51 PM
The Hague System for Protection of International Designs
CIONCA Staff4/20/2018 5:25:25 PM
USPTO Changes Examination Procedure Pertaining to Subject Matter Eligibility in View of Berkheimer v. HP, Inc.
CIONCA Staff4/13/2018 9:10:04 PM
It Take Two to Tango: Knowles v. Iancu, a Standing Dispute in a PTAB Decision
3/20/2018 12:50:05 PM
Andrei Iancu - New Director of the USPTO
3/8/2018 1:25:46 PM
Proceed with Caution: Consider Carefully when Narrowing Claims for Allowance
CIONCA Team2/16/2018 4:07:48 PM
Fashion and Intellectual Property
CIONCA Team1/17/2018 8:12:06 PM
A Fork in the Road: Production or Protection?
1/2/2018 7:47:09 PM
The Lanham Act: Disparagement Provision Violates the First Amendment
12/26/2017 6:04:25 PM
CIONCA Sets Foot in San Francisco
12/1/2017 8:01:27 PM
An Introduction to Patent Cooperation Treaty Applications
11/17/2017 1:24:20 PM
An Introduction to Patent Searches
11/10/2017 6:47:44 PM
An Introduction to Design Patent Applications
Staff11/3/2017 4:20:04 PM
An Introduction to Provisional Patent Applications
Staff9/28/2017 7:27:22 PM
staff9/27/2017 5:12:07 PM
CIONCA - Patent and Trademark Law Attorney
staff9/27/2017 5:00:12 PM
Claim Indefiniteness During Patent Pre-Issuance: Define Your Invention, Not Just Your Audience
staff9/15/2017 9:33:30 PM
CIONCA Staff8/20/2017 3:16:11 PM
CIONCA on Patents: Think Twice Before Suing for Patent Infringement and Fight Back when Unreasonably Sued
CIONCA - Staff8/9/2017 5:39:58 PM
Patent Case Study: The Novelty Of An “Invention” Is NOT Enough To Make It Patentable
CIONCA - Staff6/28/2017 8:26:07 PM
Patent Law: Conditions Precedent May Expose Method Claim to Broad Interpretation During Prosecution
CIONCA - Staff6/15/2017 5:32:14 PM
Patent Law: Challenging the Patent Claim Definiteness Requirement
Marin Cionca4/25/2017 9:48:49 PM
Monetization of Patents: How to Make Money with Patents
Marin Cionca2/21/2017 12:30:52 AM
Software Patent Law Update: Federal Circuit Finds Graphical User Interface Patentable
Marin Cionca9/15/2016 9:47:39 PM
Patent Law Alert: Federal Circuit Opens Door for More Software Patents
Marin Cionca9/6/2016 9:26:12 PM
Patent Case Law: New Example of Software as Patentable Subject Matter
Iris Kim, PhD6/1/2016 7:04:50 PM
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Designates Five More Decisions as Precedential
Marin Cionca5/17/2016 8:57:23 PM
Patent Claims Rejection Based on Inherency
Iris Kim, PhD3/25/2016 8:34:14 PM
Challenging a Claim’s Validity with Different Standards of Claim Construction
I. Kim PhD2/26/2016 8:47:51 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court Will Review Claim Construction Standards and Institution Decision Reviewability.
Marin Cionca2/16/2016 6:34:53 PM
In IPRs, patentees have to show that substitute patent claims are patentable
M. Cionca and I. Kim2/4/2016 5:55:16 PM
Software Inventions Are Still Patentable!
Marin1/28/2016 9:15:16 PM
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Designates Two Decisions as Precedential
Marin1/28/2016 9:10:56 PM
How Unpredictability Can Affect Obviousness Challenges
Marin11/19/2015 2:13:05 PM
An Innovator’s Dilemma: Design or Utility Patent?
Marin11/18/2015 7:31:35 PM
When Is a Thesis Prior Art?
Marin11/18/2015 6:15:40 PM
Covered Business Method Claims Are Not Required to Particularly Target Financial Industry
Marin11/18/2015 6:11:11 PM
PTAB Decisions Give Examples of Patent Eligible Subject Matter
Marin Cionca, Esq.
Registered Patent Attorney
USPTO Reg. No. 63899
About CIONCA® IP Law firm: We are an Orange County, CA based boutique intellectual property firm with a focus on patent and trademark application, prosecution, opinion, licensing and IP enforcement services, offering its IP services primarily at flat fee rates. We serve local OC clients, as well as clients throughout US and international clients.
We’d love to hear from you…we just need a little info
about your plans to take over the world!
P.S…Feel free to call us! (800)985-9198
Thank you for your message. We will respond within 24-72 hours. Thank you.