World Intellectual Property Organization

Chapter 2, International Phase of the PCT Applicant's Guide

CHAPTER 2:  WHAT IS THE PCT?

2.001.   The Patent Cooperation Treaty or PCT is a multilateral treaty that was concluded in Washington in 1970 and entered into force in 1978.  It is administered by the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), whose headquarters are in Geneva (Switzerland).

2.002.   The PCT facilitates the obtaining of protection for inventions where such protection is sought in any or all of the PCT Contracting States (see Annex A).  It provides for the filing of one patent application (“the international application”), with effect in several States, instead of filing several separate national and/or regional patent applications.  In addition to designations of PCT Contracting States for the purposes of obtaining national patents and similar titles, an international application includes designations for regional patents in respect of States party to any of the following regional patent treaties:  the Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs within the framework of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) (hereinafter referred to as “the ARIPO Harare Protocol”), the Eurasian Patent Convention, the European Patent Convention, and the Agreement establishing the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) (hereinafter referred to as “the OAPI Agreement”).  The PCT does not eliminate the necessity of prosecuting the international application in the national phase of processing before the national or regional Offices, but it does facilitate such prosecution in several important respects by virtue of the procedures carried out on all international applications during the international phase of processing.  The formalities check, the international search and the optional supplementary international search(es) and the likewise optional international preliminary examination carried out during the international phase, as well as the automatic deferral of national processing which is entailed, give the applicant more time and a better basis for deciding whether and in which countries to further pursue the application.

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