Decades Of Experience In Science, Business And Intellectual Property Law

What is the Patent Cooperation Treaty?

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Patents

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international treaty that streamlines the process for filing patent applications in each treaty state. Put another way? If you are a U.S. inventory or you head an innovative business and you’re interested in protecting your intellectual property internationally as well as domestically, the PCT is a legal resource that you should become familiar with. 

The treaty is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its primary goal is to simplify and make more cost-effective the process of filing patents in multiple countries, thereby fostering innovation and promoting technological development across the globe.

How it works

Under the PCT framework, inventors can file a single “international” patent application, which has the potential to be recognized by all member countries of the treaty. This model streamlines the process for those seeking patent protection in several nations, as it eliminates the need to file a separate application in each country’s office from the onset. 

The process is divided into two primary phases: the international phase and the national phase. In the international phase, the application is filed and subjected to an International Searching Authority (ISA) which conducts a search to produce an International Search Report (ISR). This report includes information about the ‘prior art’ or previously published documents that might affect the patentability of the invention. 

Following the report and necessary examinations, if an inventor chooses to proceed, the application moves into the national phase. This is where it transitions from a single international application into multiple independent national or regional patent applications in specific member countries where the inventor is seeking protection. Applicants are required to meet any requirements of the national or regional benefits, such as translations into the local language.

If your latest invention is likely to be distributed globally or is otherwise likely to need protection beyond U.S. borders, it’s important to look into whether applying for protection per the PCT process is going to be worth your while.