Have you filed for a US patent but are licensing (or looking to sell) your invention overseas? If so, you should know about the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”).
Enforced as of 1978, the PCT is the World Intellectual Property Organizations’ (WIPO) largest intellectual property filing system. It makes international patent applications simpler, more cost-effective, and serves as an example of international cooperation and globalization.
What is the PCT?
The PCT is an international treaty with more than 150 contracting states. The treaty makes it possible to postpone fees and obtain more time to prepare individual applications for each desired country. It is important to note that a PCT application does not grant patents; that still falls under the jurisdiction of the national or regional countries for which a patent is being requested in.
How does it work?
The process can be broken down to 4 main stages:
Stage 1: File an international application at your national or regional patent office or the WIPO. Your application must comply with the PCT requirements and be in one language.
Stage 2: Next, an International Searching Authority (“ISA”) will go through the patent documents to determine whether your invention is eligible to be patented. The ISA will then send out a written opinion on the potential of your invention’s patentability.
Stage 3: If your invention is patentable, the information on your international application will be published to the public after 18 months from when you filed initially.
Stage 4: Finally, about 30 months from your earliest filing date, you can begin the search for grants for your patents directly from the national or regional Offices in the countries from which you wish to obtain grants. The PCT streamlines the international patent application process, making it simpler and easier to protect your invention. If you or someone you know would like assistance in this process, contact Sumsion Business Law, our attorneys would be happy to help.