Patent is a national monopoly right and it’s necessary to obtain patent protection in every country of interest. A PCT application makes it possible to obtain patent protection in several countries by filing a single patent application. The single application of a PCT covers over 150 countries.
PCT applications are made possible by the Patent Cooperation Treaty. This is an international agreement administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and covers most of the major industrial countries of the world.
The PCT application is a single application split into separate patent applications. This covered all countries in which the applicant desires to seek patent protection. This is known as the National Phase / Regional Phase and begins up to 2.5 years after the original patent application was filed.
Allowing an additional 18 months for the applicant to explore the commercial potential of their product in various countries. As well as, to decide where to seek patent protection. And so, direct national filing allows the applicant to file separate national patent applications in the countries of interest up to 12 months after the first application.
The PCT application is subject to an international search resulting in an International Search Report (ISR). As well as a Written Opinion of the International Searching Authority (ISA) on the patentability of the invention.
The ISR can include documents considered to be relevant for the novelty and inventiveness of the invention. Whereas, The Written Opinion of the ISA is an initial opinion on the core patentability requirements: novelty, inventiveness, and industrial applicability.
The requirements are dependent on which countries and regions you are seeking patent protection in. However, you can usually expect at least some of the following requirements:
- Appoint a foreign attorney as your representative
- File formal documents
- Pay official fees
- Submit a translation of the application in the local language
- Obtain formal documents signed by applicants and inventors
- Delayed filing and translation costs for individual countries
- Centralized search and examination
- Higher overall costs
- Longer period to grant Patents
The PCT application is a helpful tool. However, it is not necessarily the right strategy for all applicants. Therefore, you may wish to seek patent protection in fewer foreign countries as the 12-month deadline from your initial patent filing approaches. In this case, you can opt to file directly to your desired countries.
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