Patent Cooperation Treaty
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is a multilateral treaty. This became effective in 1978 and it is established to eliminate some of the duplication involved when obtaining patent protection for the same invention in several countries. Patent Cooperation Treaty has more than 40 nations as signatories. The Patent Cooperation Treaty makes it possible to file and prosecute a single international application, which has the same effect as filing a separate application in each Patent Cooperation Treaty nation that the inventor designates at the time of filing the application. The Patent Cooperation Treaty neither creates an international patent nor changes the substantive requirements of patentability in any individual Patent Cooperation Treaty nation (including the US).
There are currently 108 contracting states to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (as of June 2000). The Patent Cooperation Treaty system offers an advantageous route for international patent protection with reduced costs. Contracting states may file an international application designating member states. If an applicant wants to press for grant in any of their designated states the patent application is moved to the national phase(s) but may carry the Patent Cooperation Treaty priority filing date.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions worldwide. A single filing results in a single search accompanied with a written opinion (and optionally a preliminary examination), after which the examination (if provided by national law) and grant procedures are handled by the relevant national or regional authorities. The Patent Cooperation Treaty does not lead to the grant of an "international patent".
Patent Cooperation Treaty provides no content or regulations that would limit the freedom of each Contracting State to prescribe such substantive conditions of patentability as it desires. In particular, any provision in the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the Regulations concerning the definition of prior art is exclusively for the purposes of the international procedure and, consequently, any Contracting State is free to apply, when determining the patentability of an invention claimed in an international application, the criteria of its national law in respect of prior art and other conditions of patentability not constituting requirements as to the form and contents of applications. Any receiving Office or, once the processing of the international application has started in the designated Office, that Office may apply the national law as far as it relates to any requirement that the applicant be represented by an agent having the right to represent applicants before the said Office and/or that the applicant have an address in the designated State for the purpose of receiving notifications.