The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international agreement that enables inventors and companies to file patent applications in multiple countries simultaneously. With PCT, applicants can defer the cost of seeking individual patents until they have a clearer understanding of the global commercial value of their invention.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) administers the PCT and oversees the international patent system. WIPO is responsible for managing the processing of international applications and facilitating cooperation among the various national patent offices.
A PCT application is filed with a Receiving Office (RO), which may be the national patent office of a contracting state or the international bureau of WIPO. The RO then sends the application to an International Searching Authority (ISA) for a preliminary examination of the invention`s patentability. The ISA conducts a search of published patent documents and prepares an International Search Report (ISR) and a Written Opinion (WO) on the patentability of the invention.
The PCT application is published along with the ISR and WO, typically 18 months after the priority date. The publication creates a prior art document, which could affect the patentability of the invention in other countries. However, the application remains confidential until it enters the national or regional phase.
The PCT application does not result in an international patent. Instead, it provides a unified procedure for filing a patent application in multiple countries. After the International Phase, the applicant must enter the national or regional phase in each country where they wish to seek patent protection. The procedure and requirements for national or regional entry differ among countries and regions.
In conclusion, the PCT agreement is an essential tool for inventors and companies seeking patent protection globally. It allows them to defer costs while they ascertain the commercial viability of their invention and provides them with an initial assessment of the patentability of their invention. The agreement streamlines the procedure for filing an international patent application and facilitates the cooperation among national patent offices worldwide. As a result, it has become an integral part of the international patent system.