PCT Applications

International Patent Applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

PCT patent applications are options to file actual foreign applications at a later date, up to 30 months from a valid priority date.  After 30 months, the option expires and rights under the PCT application no longer exist.  However, before the 30-month option date, the application may be converted to an application in any selected country, including the U.S.   In other words, a U.S.patent application is not needed to obtain the benefit of a PCT application.  A U.S. application may be generated at any time before the option date.   One the main benefits of a PCT application is a schedule of events.  For example, at 18 months the application is published with an International Search Report.   An applicant may request a written opinion regarding patentability following publication but this is not mandatory.  The written opinion is provided prior to the 30 month date so that chances of obtaining patent protection in selected countries may be estimated before multiple foreign applications are generated.  The written opinion does not guarantee patent protection in selected countries because the national law of each selected country is still applied, but a favorable opinion is helpful in obtaining protection in selected countries.   While the filing fee of a PCT application is several times greater than for a U.S. application, there is overall savings if patent protection is desired in several countries and time is needed to assess the technology, the market for the invention and the scope of available patent protection.

© Tom Schneck 2018