In today’s global economy, many businesses operate in more than one country, and those that do need to be able to protect their intellectual property assets everywhere they operate. The best way to do that is through patent protection. But patents extend only to the national borders of the country that granted the patent; there is, as yet, no form of international patent protection. However, the Patent Cooperation Treaty eases some of the burdens of multi-jurisdiction patent filing. If you are seeking patent protection for your innovations in more than one country, an Alabama international patent attorney can help you do so.
Our Alabama International Patent Attorney Outlines the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)?
The PCT is an international treaty that allows an applicant to file a single initial “international” patent application. The process begins when the applicant files an application in the contracting state where the applicant resides. An International Searching Authority (ISA) will then perform an international prior art search and deliver an opinion as to the patentability of the invention claimed in the application. This is known as the “international phase.” If the applicant decides to move forward with the application, he or she must then file separate applications in each of the countries in which he or she intends to pursue patent protection and comply with those countries’ laws of patentability. This is known as the “national phase.”
Which Countries Participate in the PCT?
Most of the world’s major economies in which a business would want to operate participate in the PCT, including:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
Why You Should Consider Using PCT
You may be asking yourself why you should use the PCT system if you still have to file and prosecute separate patent applications in each member country. There are several benefits to using the PCT system, such as:
- An early priority date: All countries use some form of the “first to file” system, meaning that the first person to file a patent application on an invention is entitled to it, which can create a race to the patent office. Generally, PCT applications are entitled to the priority date of the initial patent application.
- An early indicator of patentability: The ISA prior art search and opinion on patentability can give the applicant an early indication as to which countries obtaining patent protection would be most likely.
- An opportunity to amend: A PCT applicant can also request a preliminary patent examination at the international phase, giving the applicant an opportunity to amend the application before the national phase.
- Time to decide where to file: The filing of an international PCT application begins a 30- or 31-month clock during which time the applicant can decide where to file his or her national phase applications.
Thus, while you may still have to file individual applications in each country, filing a PCT application first confers a number of benefits.