The globalized nature of modern business means that many inventors and enterprises look beyond their own borders when seeking patent protection. The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides a streamlined process for these inventors and companies to seek patent protection in multiple jurisdictions. Here’s a guide to navigating the PCT and ensuring your innovations are safeguarded internationally.
Understanding the PCT
The PCT is an international treaty, currently with over 150 contracting states. It allows inventors to file a single “international” patent application, which can then be used to seek patent protection in multiple countries, rather than filing individual applications in each country.
Key Benefits of Using the PCT
- Simplification: One application in one language can potentially cover over 150 countries.
- Cost-Effective: Filing a PCT application can be more cost-effective than multiple individual national or regional filings.
- Flexibility: Provides up to 30 or 31 months (depending on the country) from the earliest filing date to decide in which countries to pursue patent protection, allowing inventors more time to assess the commercial viability of their invention.
- International Search: Each PCT application undergoes an International Search, resulting in an International Search Report, which lists prior art that might affect patentability. This can be a valuable tool for inventors.
How the PCT Process Works
- Filing: Submit an international application, typically to the national patent office, adhering to the PCT formality requirements.
- International Search: A designated International Searching Authority (ISA) will review the application and provide an International Search Report.
- Publication: Around 18 months after the earliest filing date, the international application is published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
- National Phase: Before the 30 months from the earliest filing deadline you must choose which countries you would like to seek protection (“national phase”) in and file and pay the local fees for the application.
Final Things to Consider
The PCT is a pathway to obtaining patent protection in member countries. If you are only seeking protection in one or two countries you might be better off filing directly into each of those, but if you seek more PCT is a good idea. After the PCT process, you’ll need to go through the national phase in each country where you want protection. Likewise, the PCT can be helpful to spread out costs or receive an earlier search report. Finally, the PCT and subsequent national phases require an understanding of varying patent laws and procedures. Working with a knowledgeable IP attorney can be crucial.
The PCT offers a strategic route for inventors aiming to safeguard their innovations on a global scale. While it streamlines the initial process, navigating the national phase can be complex. It’s recommended to work with an attorney familiar with international patent filings to ensure your rights are effectively protected.
Here at our firm, we regularly assist inventors who are seeking patents internationally. If you have additional questions or you would like to start the patent protection process, Click here to schedule an Initial Discovery Session online or call us at (888) 666-0062.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.