WHAT IS PCT APPLICATION (International Patent Application)?

The Patent Cooperation Treaty, or PCT, is a multilateral treaty that comes under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The PCT was formally arranged in Washington in 1970 and entered into force in 1978. The PCT is an international treaty with more than 145 contracting states (presently 156 states). The PCT application is commonly referred as international application. The PCT application is a useful way to reserve foreign patent rights without spending excessive money upfront. The PCT makes it possible for the patent applicant to seek patent protection for an invention in many countries by filing a single international patent application. There is no need of a separate national or regional patent applications. The granting of patents remains under the control of the national or regional patent Offices in the “national phase”.

Why to file International Patent Application?        

Since the patent is protected only in the country where it is filed, an international patent application can also help the applicant to seek patent protection based on the priority date of the initial application in other countries. Therefore, there is a need for an international patent application for protecting the invention.

What are the advantages of PCT applications?

A single application in a single language filed in a single country is called the international application. The single application has the effect of filing simultaneously in different countries. Filing a PCT application will save time, expenses, and extra work to protect the invention in more than one country. It allows a deferral of national processing.

Who uses the PCT?

The PCT is used by various entities such as; World’s major corporations. Research Institutions Universities Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) Individual Inventors.

What is the procedure for PCT application? WIPO.int

The PCT application has two phases. The first phase is an international phase in which the patent protection is pending under a single patent application filed with the patent office of the contracting states of the PCT. The second phase is a national or regional phase that follows the international phase. Rights are continued by filing necessary documents with the patent offices of separate contracting states of PCT.

Steps involved in PCT:

Filing an international application in a Receiving Office International search Report by an International searching authority. International preliminary examination by an International preliminary examining authority.

Who can file a PCT application?

If you are a resident of a PCT contracting state, you are eligible to file an international patent application under PCT. If there is more than one applicant named in the application, any one of them needs to comply with this requirement.   Generally, the patent applicants who wish to protect their invention in more than one country first file a national or regional patent application with their national or regional patent office. After filing a national or regional patent application, the patent applicant can file an international patent application under the PCT within 12 months from the filing date of that first application.

Additionally, while PCT helps to reserve foreign patent rights, it may not be for everyone. For example, as you are near the 12-month deadline from initial patent filing, you might seek patent protection in only one or two other countries. In that case, you can choose to file direct applications in the desired countries within 12 months from the priority date. It is also possible that the foreign countries you are thinking to apply are not members of the PCT. Consult with your Patent Agent/Attorney to prepare the strategies that make sense to avoid this inconvenience.

Where to file a PCT application?         

You can file an International patent application, in most cases, with your national patent office or directly with World Intellectual Property Organization if permitted by your state’s national security provisions. You can consult with your Patent Agent/ Attorney to get a strategic idea about where to file your PCT application.

How long does the PCT process take?  

The time required for the examination and grant of the patent varies across patent offices, and it depends on national or regional patent laws, regulations and practices. Generally, it takes 30 months from filing the initial patent application. You claim priority before beginning the national phase procedures with national patent offices. It is unnecessary to wait for 30 months, and you can also request an early entry into the national phase.

What are the costs associated with a PCT application?

An international filing fee is payable to the International Bureau of WIPO within one month from the date of filing. A search fee can vary depending on the International Search Authority and payable within one month from the date of filing. A small transmittal fee is payable to the receiving office within one month of filing the international application. The transmittal fee can vary depending on the receiving office.

Cost of filing the PCT application in India:

Transmittal fee of e-filing- Natural Person- 3200 INR, Small Entity – 8000 INR, Others – 16000 INR and for physical filing – Natural Person- 3250 INR, Small Entity – 8800 INR, Others – 17600 INR

The international filing fee for Indian Applicant – 1471 USD (Fee per sheet over 30 is 17 USD and reduction in fee for PCT easy filing 11 USD) Search fee for Indian applicant choosing Indian Patent Office as ISA, for individuals 2500 INR and others 10,000 INR. Preliminary Examination fee where ISA/IN issued the ISR for individuals is 2500 INR and others 10,000 INR and where ISA/IN did not issue the ISR for individuals is 3000 INR and others 12,000 INR. So, this is how PCT brings the world of inventions closer and controls the process of different formality requirements, and it also reduces significant costs associated with seeking multinational patent protection provides strong ideas for patenting decisions.

If you consult with an experienced Patent Agent/Attorney, you can get detailed information and help in understanding these crucial factors while applying for patent protection in foreign countries. Thereby you can save time, money and reduce the risk of infringement.

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