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The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

Signed in Washington on June 19, 1970, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is a global patent protection organization that confers protection on inventions in member states.  Since its inception, PCT has been accepted by over 150 countries around the world.  

The objective of the PCT is to make it easier for applicants in seeking patent protection internationally for their inventions.

When an inventor wishes to receive patent protection in several countries, instead of applying for a patent in each country separately, he/she could do so within the framework of the PCT, and file one international application through which it will be possible to file patent applications in the various countries that are party to the PCT.

Many countries are party to the PCT, of which Israel is one.  A PCT application will be filed with an office called a Receiving Office or with the international office located in Geneva.  In Israel, the Receiving Office is the Patent Office in Jerusalem.

About 6 months after filing the application, it will go through a search performed by an International Searching Authority (ISA), accompanied by a written opinion regarding the patentability of the invention.  The application will be published and will be accessible to the public at the end of 18 months from filing the priority application, and at a later stage, may optionally go through a preliminary examination, performed by an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA).

At the end of the international stage (30 months, in some countries 31 months, from the priority date) the option of filing the application at the national stage will become available in which the applicant may file the application in countries that are members of the PCT.  

There are situations where the application will be accepted in some countries and in some of them it will be rejected as it will be examined according to applicable law, in each jurisdiction.

The PCT system is important and is considered effective in many situations, at the same time, it is important to examine each case on its merits, because in some cases the filing of an international application may be superfluous.

Pros

  1. Postponement of the high costs involved in filing a patent in several countries and “buying time” in order to conduct business negotiations and look for investors.
  2. The examination and opinion on the invention by a WIPO examiner make it possible for the applicant to decide if to proceed to file applications in various countries.  If the owner of the invention reaches a conclusion that he/she should forgo filing in the various countries, he/she would save a substantial amount of money he/she would have paid had he/she filed patent applications in various countries rather than filing an international application.
  3. A favorable opinion on the invention by a WIPO examiner will make it easier to obtain patents in various countries.  In some countries it may even accelerate the acceptance of the patent, if the owner of the invention submits a PPH request on the basis of a favorable examination report of a WIPO examiner.

Cons

It is important to emphasize that filing of an international patent will postpone the acceptance of the patent.  Accordingly, if it is important for an owner of an invention to obtain a patent in a particular country as soon as possible, for example when there is concern that a competitor in a particular country may make use of the invention, taking the international route may not be appropriate.  Consult Dr. Sharona Lahav in order to choose the optimal route for your needs.

 
Dr. Sharona Lahav - Patent Attorney    
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