World Intellectual Property Organization

Priority Document Access Service

Frequently Asked Questions for Offices (Updated November 2009)


What is the Priority Document Access Service?

This service provided by WIPO will offer a simple and safe digital alternative to filing paper copies of priority documents with multiple patent Offices. It will enable a patent applicant claiming priority to ask patent Offices of second filing to retrieve a copy of the priority document themselves via the service.  The service is still in the stages of development.  A demo is however available for comments on this web site.

Who will be able to use the service?

The use of the service will be voluntary for both applicants and Offices. Offices that opt to participate in the service will inform WIPO of their intention to do so, and WIPO will make this information available via this website. A regularly updated list of participating Offices will be available. The service could be used for both patent applications filed via the Paris Convention route and international patent applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

What will the advantages be for patent Offices?

The Priority Document Access Service will allow Offices a low cost way of offering a service to local applicants wishing to file applications in other countries. By arranging availability of priority documents through the service, the Office will be able to share documents with a wide range of Offices without having to worry about establishing secure connections with each Office and dealing with different transmission and document formats (similar connections with WIPO are already in place for PCT purposes). The documents will be prepared and transmitted in electronic format directly from a trusted source, eliminating the need for handling paper certified copies. Because of restrictions in national law, some Offices might not be able to participate in the service as Offices of second filing, but this should not deter them from offering their applicants the opportunity to use the service as Offices of first filing. The service will also be consistent with and complementary to other established systems for the exchange of priority documents such as the Trilateral Document Access (TDA) system established by the "Trilateral" Offices (the European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office).

How will priority documents be made available via the service?

Some details will depend on the Office of first filing, but essentially, the Office will make the priority document available via the service at the applicant’s request (in some cases this might be done automatically) and the applicant will be sent an “access code”. Using this code and the application number, the applicant will manage the list of Offices authorized to access the document.

How will priority documents be retrieved from the service?

The applicant will claim priority in exactly the same way as normal, but instead of sending a priority document to the Office of second filing, he will ask the Office to retrieve a copy for itself (for example, by marking a checkbox on the application form). The applicant will also have to ensure that access by that Office is authorized by actively controlling which Offices have access to the document.

What if things go wrong?

The service will be designed to be very reliable and to cope with short periods where the systems of any Office become unavailable. However, participating Offices of second filing will have to provide safeguards for applicants to protect their rights in cases where a document cannot be retrieved for some reason. This will either be by ensuring that access via the service is restored or by obtaining and transmitting a conventional certified copy from the Office of first filing.

How will confidentiality be ensured?

The confidentiality of priority documents that are not yet publicly available will be ensured via a simple access control list within the service monitored by the patent applicant. An applicant requesting a certified copy of a priority document to be made available via the service will receive an access code either from the Office of first filing or from WIPO depending on cases. This access code will enable the patent applicant to maintain control over access to the document to specify which Offices should have permission to access the priority document.

How will access codes be issued and monitored?

Not all Offices of first filing that will participate in the service will necessarily opt to manage access codes for applicants to set access rights in the service. In such a case the Office of first filing will forward to WIPO either the actual priority document or the reference link to the document to be made available in the service along with the applicant's name and contact details, and it is WIPO that will issue the applicant with the access code. Such exchanges will be done over secure channels between WIPO and participating Offices.

How will confidentiality be ensured taking into account national law constraints?

Due to the constraints of different national laws regarding applicant confidentiality, certain Offices might not be permitted to make applicant details available to the service, nor even any details regarding the earlier application. In such a case the Office of first filing would be required to provide the access code and the reference link to the priority document directly to the applicant, who would in turn submit this information to the service. To cover the various legal constraints that different Offices might face, three alternative routes have been determined for a priority document to be made available through the service. Each participating Office will specify which route applies in its case.

  • Route A: the Office of first filing (OFF) releases the priority document reference plus applicant details to the service which confirms accessibility of the priority document and the access code directly to the applicant;

  • Route B: the Office of first filing releases priority document reference to the service but not applicant details, therefore it is the Office of first filing that must provide the access code to the applicant;

  • Route C: The Office of first filing can release no details at all directly to the service, but provides the priority document reference and the access code to the applicant directly.

To the extent possible, all communications between the Offices of first and second filing, WIPO and the applicant will be conducted electronically via e-mail, although paper or fax communications will be possible for applicants and Offices that do not have online access.

What if an Office does not have adequate Internet connections?

The service will also offer paper-based options for the benefit of Offices who are not in position to access the service on-line.

Who can I ask for further information?

If you are interested in using the service for priority documents either coming from your Office or to be used in your Office, contact the PCT e-Services Help Desk for further details.

What guidelines should be followed for participation?

The following guidelines are provided for Participating Offices to implement DAS:


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