Patent Cooperation Treaty to secure patent in multiple countries

What is PCT?

PCT stands for Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), this treaty is a comprehensive method to enable an inventor to secure patent internationally in multiple countries which are party to this treaty. But, this does not mean that by filing a PCT application you will be able to automatically secure patent in all the countries, PCT only enables the inventors and the applicant to secure an International filing date and extension of time to file the invention application in intended country or countries. The countries party to this Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) are known as contracting states. In short PCT application is the first and important step to secure your patent internationally.

What are the requirements for filing PCT?

The basic requirements for filing PCT applicatiomn is the Invention application is supported by the proper description and claims not necessarily drawings. Also, signatures on the forms by inventors or one of the inventor (in case of multiple inventors). The requirements for securing International filing date are not very stringent and enable the inventors and applicant to secure filing date easily.

Who can file for PCT?

Any Inventor or Applicant or Legal Entity, who is citizen, national or resident of any of the member countries of PCT.

Why to file for PCT?

PCT enables you to buy sufficient time without losing on priority to check the viability of invention and accordingly device the strategy to secure invention in relevant countries through single application, in single language with single set of fees.

What is the procedure or process involved in PCT application?
The PCT procedure includes following steps :
Filing: You file an international application with a national or regional patent Office or WIPO, complying with the PCT formality requirements.
International Search: Once the application is filed and allotted the International filing date, the International search authority opted by the applicant issues a International search report which basically list out the published patent documents and technical literature (“prior art”) which may have an impact on your invention filed. This establishes a written opinion on your inventions potential patentability.
International Publication: The PCT application so filed is published on the expiration of 18 months from the earliest filing date, i.e the content of your PCT application is now open to public.
Supplementary International Search (optional): This is optional incase a second ISA identifies, at applicants request, which may include published documents which may not have been found by the first ISA which was carried out during the main search because of the diversity of prior art in different languages and different technical fields.
International Preliminary Examination (optional): This is also optional and generally done as an additional patentability analysis, mostly where the first PCT application is amended.
National Phase: After the end of the PCT procedure as detailed above, which is generally the end of 30 months from the earliest filing date of your initial application or from date you claim priority. You may start to pursue the grant of your patents directly before the national (or regional) patent Offices of the countries in which you want to obtain them.

Here’s a crisp summary of timeline for PCT process:
Months from Priority Date Deadline
12 Months File PCT application (Before expiry of 12 months from priority date)
16 Months • ISA establishes International Search Report & Written Opinion (ISR+WO)
• Article 19 Amendment due later of 16 months from priority date or 2 months from ISR
18 Months International publication of PCT Application
22 Months • Chapter II Demand deadline or later of 3 months from Written Opinion of International Search Authority • Article 34 Amendment typically filed with Chapter II Demand to be considered before second opinion (IPER) is issued
28 Months International Preliminary Examination Report (IPER) (optional)
30 Months National Phase deadline for 30-months countries
31 Months National Phase deadline for 31-months countries
Source: http://www.patenttrademarkblog.com/pct-deadlines-for-chapter-ii-demand-and-article-19-and-34-amendments/

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