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Provisional Patent Applications: What You Need To Know, Part 21

PCT Application: What You Need To Know To Protect Your Invention And Your Profits Around The World

Who Should File A PCT Application?

  • An inventor or assignee (owner) who wants to apply for patent protection in at least one country that recognizes the PCT, which is nearly every country in the world.

Click here for a list of PCT (Paris Convention Treaty) contracting states.

What Is A PCT Application?

  • A PCT Application is an international “place holder” application that can establish a priority date for your claimed invention in every country that recognizes the PCT.

A PCT application is often misnamed an “international patent” or “international patent application.” A PCT application is an official request for the countries that recognize the PCT (Paris Convention Treaty) to grant you a priority date for a claimed invention. Most countries are first-to-file countries, meaning that if your invention is publicly used, published, or sold by someone else anywhere in the world OR someone files for the same invention before you do, then your patent rights could be lost or severely limited. By filing a PCT application, you can “win the race to every patent office” that recognizes the PCT.

However, the PCT application is just an international place holder. It will be examined by a PCT receiving office. However, the PCT application itself will never issue as a patent in any country. Instead, for around two and half years, you can use the PCT application is as a basis for filing a National Stage Application (i.e. a “real patent application”) in each country in which you want to get a patent.

PCT Application + No National Stage Application = No Patent

For example, you can file a PCT application in the U.S. Then after two years, you can decide to file a national stage application in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. If the national stage application is allowed in each country, then you will receive a U.S. Patent, a Canadian patent, and a German patent. The PCT application will lapse on a country-by-country basis according to each country’s time limits, but most are on or after 30 months.

Click here to see the National Stage Deadlines for PCT countries.

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