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Provisional Patent Applications: What You Need To Know, Part 22

Where Should You File A PCT Application?

  • If one of your inventors is a U.S. citizen or resident, then you can file a PCT application in the PCT receiving office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or directly with the International Bureau of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization).

In practice, a U.S. patent attorney or U.S. patent agent can file a PCT application for you from anywhere in the world. Click here if you want to learn how to file a PCT application yourself.

When Should You File A PCT Application?

  • The answer to this question is depends on your situation.

As Soon As Possible: Generally, you should wait until you have drafted claims for your invention and can explain to a person skilled in the art how to make and use your claimed invention. The sooner you file, the less likely anyone is to scoop you and block you from getting a patent. However, once you file the PCT application, you cannot add subject matter to your PCT application. That means that you cannot claim later improvements of your invention. Basically, you are stuck with what you file.

After Development And Evaluation:
Many inventors and owners take the time to really develop the invention and evaluate the market before filing a PCT application. You may also want to file a provisional application first because the PCT application costs more and will be examined, which can add costs.

Before Making It Public: If you are going to file a PCT application at all, you should file your PCT application or provisional patent application before publishing, selling, presenting or in any way making your invention public (without a non-disclosure agreement). Otherwise, you will probably lose or severely limit your patent rights around the world.

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