Since its adoption in Washington in 1970, the PCT had had great success in achieving its objectives. In particular, it had succeeded in simplifying and rendering more economical the obtaining of protection for inventions throughout the world.
Having been in practical operation for more than 25 years, the PCT had experienced enormous growth, witnessed by the ever-increasing number of contracting states and the nearly 122,000 international applications filed in 2004.
An important factor in the PCT's success had been the constant evolution of the system, in which particular regard had always been paid to the needs of both applicants and offices. The Treaty itself was amended in 1979 and subsequently modified in 1984 and 2001. In addition, PCT procedures were revised on an ongoing basis by amendment of the Regulations and the Administrative Instructions.
Efforts aiming at a more substantial reform of the PCT began in October 2000 when an initiative for a concerted effort to reform the Treaty was endorsed by the Assembly of the PCT Union. Two bodies were set up by the Assembly at its 29th session in 2000 and its 30th session in 2001, respectively, to consider proposals for reform and to make recommendations to the Assembly:
The Committee and Working Group recommended many significant changes to the PCT Regulations, which were approved by the PCT Assembly. In 2007, the 36th session of the Assembly decided that the work of the Committee and Working Group was complete and ended their mandate (paragraph 134 of document PCT/A/36/13). Work related to the improvement of the functionning of the PCT system continues through the PCT Working Group and the Meeting of International Authorities under the PCT, but tends to focus more on using the system effectively within the existing legal framework, rather than making major changes to that framework.