Electronic communication methods with the International Bureau
In light of reduced postal services and WIPO’s obligation to activate its business continuity protocol, resulting in a gradual suspension of scanning, printing and mail receipt & sending, you are urgently requested to set up electronic communication methods with the International Bureau, including as PCT receiving Office, if you have not already done so.
Please follow the instructions below that are relevant to your current method of conducting PCT business with the International Bureau, both for sending and receiving PCT-related documents and notifications.
Receiving notifications from the IB
Receipt by e-mail only: If you have already authorized the IB to send PCT notifications for your international applications by e-mail only, this service will continue without interruption and no further action is required by you.
Receipt by advance e-mail followed by paper copy: Until further notice, only the advance copy by e-mail will be sent and no paper copies will follow. No further action is required from you at this time, however you are advised for new applications going forward to select the option to receive notifications by e-mail only and to discontinue additional receipt of paper copies.
Receipt in paper form only, but e-mail address otherwise provided: If you have not specifically authorized the IB to send PCT notifications by e-mail, but an e-mail address is present in the bibliographic data for the applicant(s), agent(s) or address for correspondence for your international applications, the IB will, as an exceptional measure, send PCT notifications to that e-mail address and no paper copy will be sent.
Receipt in paper form only and no e-mail address provided: If this case applies to your international applications, please urgently contact the International Bureau at one of the following e-mail addresses so that we can assist you in setting-up receipt of notifications by e‑mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notification via ePCT of documents processed and forms issued by the IB: Applicants with access rights to their international applications in ePCT will continue to receive ePCT notifications about documents processed and forms issued by the IB as per the current practice (and as per their notifications preferences set up in ePCT), since these notifications are separate from, and sent in addition to, the issuance of PCT Forms by the operational system at the IB.
Sending documents to the IB
Using ePCT with strong authentication: If you currently use ePCT with strong authentication to file new international applications and to submit documents to the IB (and other participating Offices) via ePCT online ‘actions’ and document upload, this is considered the best practice and should be continued. All ePCT online services continue to operate as normal and are not subject to the current disruptions affecting scanning, printing or postal services.
Using ePCT without strong authentication: If you use ePCT without strong authentication to upload electronic documents to the IB, this practice should be continued, as it offers a practical alternative to the mailing and receipt of paper documents that is currently disrupted. In addition, you are advised to take this opportunity to set up strong authentication for the WIPO Account that you use to log in to ePCT, as this will enable you to perform many additional online functions that are available only when you log in to ePCT with strong authentication, such as:
- electronic filing of new applications to RO/IB and other participating receiving Offices using ePCT-Filing that requires no download of any software and contains a large number of built-in validations based on the most up-to-date reference data held by the IB;
- request ePCT access rights to existing applications so that you may consult the documents held in the electronic file of the IB, including copies of any outgoing paper notifications that may have been subject to postal disruptions;
- ePCT ‘actions’ that allow you to interact with your applications on line by inputting bibliographic data and attaching electronic documents for the most common PCT transactions;
- the possibility to upload documents in electronic form to other ePCT participating Offices in their capacity as RO, ISA and IPEA, thus avoiding the need to send paper documents to a wide number of geographical locations where postal services might continue to be disrupted for some time.
Learn more about the advantages of using ePCT with strong authentication.
If you do not yet have a WIPO Account: You are advised to create a WIPO account so that you can start to benefit from the many online services offered by the ePCT system as described briefly above. Please refer to the Getting Started guidelines for help in getting set-up to use ePCT. Should you require assistance with any aspect of creating a WIPO Account and starting to use the ePCT system, please contact the PCT eServices Help Desk at email@example.com
Submitting electronic documents to the IB without a WIPO Account: If you have not yet created a WIPO Account, you can nevertheless submit documents to the IB in electronic (PDF) format by using the Contingency Upload Service. Although use of this upload service is not best practice and is intended as a back-up service in the unlikely event that the ePCT system is not available, it provides a practical electronic alternative to sending paper documents.
Providing certified copies of priority documents
For cases where DAS – or digitally signed PDF documents uploaded via ePCT – cannot be used for making the priority document available to the International Bureau, and in cases where Rule 17.1(b) does not apply, it is recommended to send the original paper copy of the priority document to your local receiving Office. In the case of the International Bureau as receiving Office, you are advised to send the certified copy of the priority document to RO/IB by registered mail and to submit a copy of the proof and date of sending by document upload or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Transitioning from paper to electronic communications for the future
As described above, a number of electronic solutions have been put in place for receiving from and submitting data and documents to the IB in electronic format. Even outside of the current exceptional circumstances due the Covid-19 pandemic, the IB has set a strategic goal to provide applicants with the tools and support necessary to transition from paper-based to electronic transactions.