World Intellectual Property Organization

Administrative Instructions under the Patent Cooperation Treaty

Section 708
Special Provisions Concerning Legibility,
Completeness, Infection by Viruses, Etc.

(a)  Where an international application is filed in electronic form, the receiving Office shall promptly check whether the application is legible and whether it appears to have been fully received.20 Where the Office finds that all or part of the international application is illegible or that part of the application appears not to have been received, the international application shall be treated as not having been received to the extent that it is illegible or, where transmitted21 by electronic means, that the attempted transmission failed, and the Office shall, if practicable having regard to the indications furnished by the applicant,22 promptly notify the applicant accordingly.23, 24

(b)  Where a purported international application is received in electronic form, the receiving Office shall promptly check it for infection by viruses and other forms of malicious logic.25 Where the Office finds that the purported application is so infected: 

(i) the Office is not required to disinfect the purported application and may, under Section 703(e), refuse to receive it;

(ii) if the Office decides under Section 703(e) to receive the purported application, the Office shall use means reasonably available under the circumstances to read it, for example, by disinfecting it or preparing a backup copy under Section 706, and to store it in such a way that its contents may be ascertained if necessary;26

(iii) if the Office finds that it is able to read and store the purported application as mentioned in item (ii), it shall determine whether an international filing date should be accorded;

(iv) if the Office accords an international filing date to the application, it shall, if possible having regard to the indications furnished by the applicant, promptly notify the applicant and, if necessary, invite the applicant to submit a substitute copy of the application free of infection;

(v) if the Office accords an international filing date to the application, it shall prepare the home copy, the record copy and the search copy on the basis of the disinfected application, the backup copy or the substitute copy referred to in items (ii) or (iv), as applicable, provided that the application shall be stored by the Office, as referred to in item (ii), for the purposes of Rule 93.1.26

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20 Editor’s Note: The receiving Office is expected, of course, to take reasonable steps to attempt to read the application. The checking may be automated to the extent possible. 

21 Editor’s Note: The word "transmitted" is to be understood in a general sense as including transmittal by either electronic or physical means, noting that an international application may be filed on physical media (see Annex F, Appendix IV).

22 Editor’s Note: The date of receipt will be determined according to the usual principles applicable to the filing of applications on paper, including filing by electronic means (such as by facsimile transmission).

23 Editor’s Note: Where the International Bureau finds that the record copy of an international application filed in electronic form as received by it is illegible, it will notify the receiving Office which will then, where applicable, proceed under Section 708(a). Where the international application is treated as not having been received to the extent that it is illegible or that the attempted transmission failed, the receiving Office would then determine whether a filing date should be granted on the basis of that much of the application as was received.

24 Editor’s Note: Numbers of provisions in the Regulations and Administrative Instructions require “prompt” official action. The question of what is “prompt” in given circumstances is not defined in absolute terms but should be explained in the PCT Receiving Office Guidelines. In the context of Section 704(a), the notification should generally issue in minutes rather than hours or days. The various indications referred to in the Section may in some cases have to be notified or confirmed at different times, for example, in the case of batch submissions of documents.

25 Editor’s Note: Where the International Bureau finds that the record copy of an international application filed in electronic form as received by it is infected by a virus, it will notify the receiving Office which will then, where applicable, proceed under Section 708(b).

26 Editor’s Note: Since the originally filed application may need to be referred to for evidentiary purposes, the receiving Office should if possible store it as filed, that is, in its infected state.

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