If you want to acquire patent in multiple countries with a single patent application filing, then PCT patent application is the option for you. Filing under PCT application does not automatically grants you foreign patent rights, but it is the first step towards achieving so. After PCT filing you need to file individual patent applications in member countries where you wish to obtain patent rights. This individual filing is the national phase. Thus, if you world wide patent application filing becomes easy with PCT filing.
So, if you know the basics about to PCT applications and want to know more about it, this article is the right place. Here we have answered the most basic and important FAQs that everyone has regarding PCT applications. So read till end and clear all the doubts you have.
Also read: Basics of PCT Patent applications
When must a PCT application be filed?
In Paris convention, you need to file the foreign patent applications within 12 months of filing national application in a member country. Hence, if you first file the patent application in the USA, you will have 12 months to file foreign applications in member countries of Paris Convention. The priority date for claiming will be the date when you first file the application in the USA.
However, the scenario is bit different in international PCT filing i.e. Patent Cooperation Treaty application process. It provides the applicant with extra 18 month to decide in which countries to acquire patent grant. It also gives them the chance to think whether to acquire patent in such countries or not. If you first file the patent in the USA followed by PCT filing in 12 months, you will be having 18 more months to nationalize the PCT application in foreign countries of your choice who are also the signatory of PCT.
But kindly note that not every PCT member country provides the full 18 months for nationalization. These few countries give short time to acquire patent grant in them after PCT application filing. Thus, you must consult an attorney while going for international PCT filing. They will guide you about the deadlines suitable to you as per your case.
What is needed to file a PCT application?
One who is going to file for PCT application must be a resident or national of a PCT member country. If the application is filing in the USA then at least one applicant must be the resident or national of the USA. Further, the application must be purely in the English to be competent.
The PCT patent application must also indicate that it is for the purpose of international patent grant under PCT filing. The important components of application includes the name of the applicant, a description, abstract, patent drawings, and the claims of applicant.
How long does a PCT application lasts?
Filing for a PCT patent application generates a patent filing duration of 30 months. Or it also extends the previous patent filing duration to a total of 30 months. Thus, you can use this period of 30 months to think, decide, and then act to acquire the individual international patent grants in the PCT member countries. If you will delay than the 30 months duration, then the PCT application will expire.
Thus, PCT patent application gives you a protection for that duration in which you can convert it into a final patent in countries you want. Hence, PCT applications don’t grant you the patent rights, instead they give the buffer you can use to file non-provisional application after fully developing it.
Benefits of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Application
It is clear that the PCT applications simplify the international patent filing and grant. Following are the most important benefits of filing PCT patents:
Parallel Patent Protection Internationally:
Whenever you file the patent application in your country, it unlikely to obtain patent grant in other countries. The reason for same is, the added cost, effort, and complexity to decide the prior art date. This is where the role of PCT filing becomes important for you. It allows you to obtain international patent grants simultaneously under patent laws of member countries of PCT.
International Patent Search Report:
One of the important criteria to decide patent grant is whether the invention is novel or not. Thus, when you file a PCT application with WIPO, it conducts a global patent search. This helps the applicant to find whether their invention is novel all around the world or not. This search report significantly affects your decision, whether to acquire a foreign patent grant or not.
For example, suppose your invention is found to be non-novel during patent search in patent filing. You can then withdraw your application, without wasting the money in national phase filing. Thus, it is the most effective method for managing the risk of international patent filing.
Time-effective Application Process
Obtaining international patent grant by applying individually in the desired countries is a challenging task. It not only demands time, and effort, but the large amount of money also. Further, you will have to amend the application as per rules and regulations of each country. Thus, PCT patent filing increases the pace of your foreign patent grant globally. Some PCT member countries also have PCT-Patent Prosecution Highway Agreements that enable even faster processing.
Opportunity to amend applications
International PCT filing gives applicant the opportunity to amend their application before entering national phase in member countries. You can study the search reports of PCT and amend the application that will even more smooth international patent grant.
Limitations of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
Every option has merits and demerits tied to them, same is the case with PCT patent applications too. However, the merits PCT provides is far more than its limitations and hence makes them null. But still you need to know the few limitations it has. They are as follows:
Limited Patent Coverage
PCT patent applications allows you to obtain only utility patents through it. If you plan to obtain a design patent through this process, then it cannot happen. It also offers delays in patent examination and hence time to acquire patent via PCT route is comparatively longer. However, you get the additional 18/19 months in PCT filing to select the countries of interest.
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