Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an International legal agreement that enables the applicant to apply in 153 countries through a single application referred to as International application or PCT. It is recognized by all member states of PCT for the purposes of examination and for enforcement of any granted patents in each country that is a member of PCT.
A Basic or Provisional application is filed with patent office of the country. The date on which this application is filed is called Priority Date. A PCT application has to be filed within 12 months from the priority date.
The PCT procedure consists of two main phases:
First phase is International phase.
Second phase is National phase.
International phase begins with the filing of PCT application to the Receiving office or WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). The second phase begins with the international application entering into any number of countries to be evaluated under the patent laws in force in each particular country where you want a patent. Thus, there is said to be an international phase and a national phase to the PCT process.
The international phase has 5 stages of which the first 3 is mandatory and the last two are optional.
Stage 1: Application Filing with Receiving Office (RO)
Stage 2: International Search Authoriry (ISA) conducts a search to eliminate similar patents and prepare a report called International Search Report (ISR). They also provide a report containing Written Opinion (WO) on patentability of the invention.
Stage 3: The patent application along with ISR and WO report is published on Patentscope (WIPO) for public view.
Stage 4: Establishment of Supplementary international search.
Stage 5: International Preliminary Examination (optional). Applicant files a demand with International Preliminary Examination Authority (IPEA). This report analyses the general patentability of the invention. This report is communicated to the RO.
National Phase: Within 22/30/31 months from the priority date, the applicant has to file the National Phase PCT application for the grant of patent. The application is prosecuted according to the law of respective country.
Following Flow chart elucidates PCT Process and Important timelines ;
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