The Patent Cooperation Treaty (or PCT) was concluded in 1970 in Washington. This treaty allows a patent to be applied for all over the world by means of a single application procedure. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is responsible for implementing this treaty.
In contrast to the procedure for granting European patents, the PCT procedure does not directly result in a granted patent. A worldwide patent does therefore not exist.
It would be impossible to pay for a patent to be granted in all countries that are affiliated with the Patent Cooperation Treaty and it would not be worthwhile either. The major advantage of the PCT procedure is that you have 30 months to decide in which countries you actually wish to have patent protection. Once these 30 months have elapsed, there are procedures in a number of regions that will allow you to defer payment of costs associated with granting a patent and translation. Patent attorneys are able to offer advice on this matter.
The PCT procedure begins by filing a PCT application and paying a number of set fees (including fees associated with filing and carrying out a search). You may file your application with our office, the European Patent Office or the WIPO.
An International Search Authority (ISA), such as the European Patent Office, will subsequently carry out an international novelty search.
The WIPO publishes the application as soon as possible once 18 months have elapsed since the initial filing date. At your request, a provisional examination can be made, and this may often be the case as a result of documents that you can re-submit with improvements.
The results of the novelty search and any assessment are subsequently sent to the national patent-granting authority or the European Patent Office. These authorities are able to complete the process and subsequently grant a patent. At the end of the PCT procedure (i.e. prior to the end of the 30th month, counting from the priority date), you will proceed to the regional or national phase. You will then decide in which countries you wish to establish patent rights.
Applying for a patent through the PCT procedure involves:
If you require further information, please contact our public information office.