Search for Term

International Services

International Patent Lawyers

What is the PCT?

Under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an inventor can file a single international patent application and simultaneously seek patent protection for an invention in each of a large number of countries. The international application has the effect of a national patent application in the PCT member countries that are selected. Upon filing, one of the eligible PCT governmental searching offices will perform a patent search on the application. After reviewing the results, the inventor may prosecute the patent application in each country where protection is sought.

Requirements for filing a PCT

An international patent application may be filed by any inventor who is a national or resident of one of the PCT member countries. The application is filed with the inventor’s national Patent Office, which will act as a PCT receiving office. An international patent application can be filed in any language which the receiving office is prepared to accept.

Advantages of filing a PCT

Cost. Because there is only one application, there is only a single set of filing fees. These fees cover the filing, searching and publication of the international patent application. National fees in the designated states become payable much later because national processing is delayed.

High quality international search. An International Searching Authority performs a high-quality search of the patent documents and other technical literature in the languages commonly used in patent applications, such as English, French and German. The search results, which are made available to the applicant, list prior art documents relevant to the claims in the application. This allows the inventor to evaluate the chances of receiving patents in the designated countries.

More reliable patents. Because of the high quality of the international search, and the application of international standards, any patent granted is less likely to be successfully challenged.

International preliminary examination. The PCT provides an option to have an international preliminary examination of the application, made on the basis of the international search report. A favorable international preliminary examination report provides a strong basis on which to evaluate the chances of obtaining a patent, and an authoritative finding on which to prosecute patent applications before national patent offices.

Extends time protected. The international application is not published by the International Bureau until 18 months after the priority date, during which time no third person is allowed to access the application. This allows the inventor time to investigate the invention’s commercial possibilities abroad.

Can claim priority. Under the Paris Convention, an inventor may claim priority over an earlier patent application for the same invention, for up to 12 months after the filing of the earlier application.

For additional information, including a current listing of the PCT member countries, consult the PCT website at: http://www.wipo.iny/pct/en.

Foreign Attorneys

If you are looking for a U.S. representative to enter the national phase (30 months from the foreign filing), email us at or call us to speak to one of our attorneys.