PCT - International Patent Applications
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is a legal agreement entered into between various PCT member countries around the world in regard to the initial filing of patent applications. The purpose of the PCT is to streamline the initial filing process, making it initially less expensive and more convenient to file patent applications in several countries around the world. **PCT International Patent Application Pricing**
Advantages of PCT
If you are considering filing a patent application in several countries to seek foreign patents, but are not yet certain of which specific countries (at the time you initially file a patent application in the U.S.) or if you will be applying for foreign patents and would like to delay the substantial investment of filing many foreign patent applications, by an additional 18 months beyond the standard 1-year date from U.S. filing (30 months total from the earliest U.S. filing date), it may be advantageous to file a PCT international patent application.
PCT Filing Process
For citizens or residents of the U.S., the first step is to file a U.S. patent application in the United States. Once a U.S. patent application is filed in the U.S, a PCT international patent application must be filed with a PCT receiving office at any time within a 1-year priority period, claiming priority from the earliest filed U.S. patent application (note that if you filed a U.S. provisional patent application, the 1-year priority period dates from the filing of the U.S. provisional patent application, not a regular, non-provisional U.S. patent application which may claim domestic priority to the U.S. provisional patent application).
Filing a PCT international patent application allows you to delay the "National Phase" filing of patent applications in any of the PCT member countries for up to 30 months from the earliest U.S. filing date, which ultimately provides more information and time to make decisions regarding which countries to file foreign patent applications.
PCT international patent applications are searched and examined by the PCT receiving office which is selected. Currently, U.S. citizens or residents may select either the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), IP Australia (IPAU), the Israel Patent Office (ILPO), the Singapore IP Office, the Japanese Patent Office (JPO) or the Russian Patent Office (Rospatent). The PCT receiving office will issue an International Search Report and an International Preliminary Report on Patentability, which often provides information concerning potential patentability of the initially-filed U.S. priority patent application. Note, some PCT receiving offices will only examine certain types of claims or technologies in a PCT international patent application, which should be considered when selecting a PCT receiving office.
Drawbacks of PCT
The potential drawbacks of filing a PCT international patent application are cost (typically well over $4,000,
most of which is government fees) and perhaps if you end up deciding not to file many (or any) foreign patent applications, but still invested the time and money in filing a PCT international patent application.