PCT Highlights

The International Patent System

PCT recent and future developments

PCT Assembly

The 50th session of the Assembly of the PCT Union (PCT Assembly) was held in Geneva during the period from 24 September to 2 October 2018 as part of the meetings of the Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO.  The PCT Assembly inter alia adopted amendments to PCT Rule 69.1(a) allowing the International Preliminary Examining Authority to start international preliminary examination once it is in possession of:

  • the demand for international preliminary examination;
  • the relevant fees;
  • either the international search report or the declaration by the International Searching Authority under PCT Article 17(2)(a); and
  • the written opinion established under PCT Rule 43bis.1

unless the applicant expressly requests to postpone the start of the international preliminary examination until the expiration of the applicable time limit under PCT Rule 54bis.1(a), thus reversing the default position so that, instead of waiting until the time limit for making the demand expires, examination should start immediately, unless the applicant expressly requests otherwise. 

For a complete summary, see the PCT Newsletter, October 2018.  All documents for this session are now available as well as the report.

PCT in 2017

International patent applications grew by 4.5% to 243,500 in 2017, setting a new annual record.  Applicants based in the United States of America maintained their number one ranking, which they have held since operations began nearly 40 years ago.

The top 5 countries of origin for the year were:

  • United States (56,624, 23,3%)
  • China (48,882, 20,1%)
  • Japan (48,208, 19,8%)
  • Germany (18,982, 7,8%)
  • Republic of Korea (15,763, 6,5%)

For further information see PCT Yearly Review; a special theme on applicant representatives named in PCT applications was added to the 2018 publicationPDF; consult also infographic 2017 and press release March 2018 as well as videos on YouTube: Highlights on patents; Press Conference.

World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018

The World Intellectual Property Indicators – 2018 includes a special section patent litigation compares patent litigation systems across jurisdictions.

PCT Collaborative search and examination: third pilot launched on 1 July 2018

After having completed the first and second pilot (see evaluation report PDF), the operational phase of the third pilot was launched on July 1, 2018  and is expected to run for at least three years; for further general information and for information on the current acceptance of requests at the respective Offices see Collaborative Search and Examination (and document PCT/WG/11/15 PDF).

Amendments to the PCT Regulations

On 1 July 2018, amendments to the PCT Regulations and consequential modifications to other PCT Texts and Forms entered into force:

  • PCT Rules 4.1(b)(ii) and 41.2(b): numbering references have been corrected consequential to the provisions which entered into force on 1 July 2017 relating to the transmittal of earlier search and/or classification results; and
  • PCT Schedule of Fees: it has been clarified that the 90% fee reduction in item 5 of the Schedule of Fees is intended only for persons filing an international application in their own right and not those filing an international application on behalf of a person or entity which is not eligible for the reduction.

PCT Working Group

The eleventh session of the PCT Working Group took place from June 18 to June 22, 2018. The meeting documents and the Summary, prepared by the Chair of the Meeting, as well as the report are now available.  The next session of the PCT Working Group is scheduled to take place from June 11 to June 14, 2019. 

ePCT update

The latest releases, include an external signature function, see video Video.  An all-new graphical user interface of ePCT was released in 2017, see video Video and background information.  A new contingency upload service as a contingency/alternative mode of communication at the International Bureau was released December 2018 (further information).

The following Offices now accept international applications filed using the ePCT-Filing function in the ePCT Portal:

See list of Offices accepting ePCT-Filing.

ePCT has the best-in-class validation features – all data checks are made against the International Bureau’s database at the time of preparation of the application. To access the ePCT System or read more about the new features for applicants and patent Offices PDF.

Meeting of International Authorities (MIA)

The 25th session of the Meeting of International Authorities took place from February 21 to 23, 2018 (Madrid, Spain).  The meeting documents and the Summary, prepared by the Chair of the Meeting, are available.  The next session will take place from February 13 to February 14 in Cairo, Egypt, and the meeting documents are now available. 

PCT-Patent Prosecution Highway Pilot (PCT-PPH)

PCT-PPH pathways enable applicants to request a fast track examination procedure.

  • 50 per cent of overall PPH is PCT-PPH.
  • Data from selected Offices in 2015 shows that PPH requests have a 7.5% to 26% higher grant rate and a 4% to 39.7% higher first Office action allowance rate than all applications combined. The average pendency rate from the PPH request to final decision was between 5.8 and 26.8 months less than for all applications combined:  consult PCT Yearly Review 2016 PDF,C.6; for the 2017 EPO PCT-PPH data:  Yearly Review 2018 PDF, C26
  • Further available: video on user experience, Carl Oppedahl [YouTube].

More about other worksharing initiatives among Offices.


Learn the PCT video series

A series of 29 short videos (approximately 15 minutes each) presented by Matthias Reischle-Park, Deputy Director, PCT Legal and User Relations Division, WIPO [YouTube] (also available Portuguese-subtitled version prepared by INPI Brazil and Arabic-subtitled version prepared by the Saudi Patent Office). This series is:

  • designed to provide a basic introduction to important aspects and issues in the international phase and national phase of PCT processing; and
  • closely follows material covered during basic PCT training seminars and will be particularly useful for those who have not attended such seminars in person, for small and medium-sized enterprises, and for PCT users and potential users in developing and least-developed countries.

Introductory PCT Distance learning course

The DL101PCT 4 hours course provides an introduction and general overview of PCT; it is complemented with self-assessment tools that are strategically placed throughout the course to measure understanding and progress and it is available in ten languages.

PCT Webinars

PCT Webinars are used to deliver PCT information, training and updates in ten languages free of charge; recorded webinars are available at PCT Webinars.

In‑house seminars on the PCT with WIPO’s participation are available; for seminars open to the public consult the PCT Seminar Calendar.

Supplementary International Search

Requesting one or more supplementary international searches (SIS), during the PCT procedure, expands both the linguistic and technical scope of the search PPT

  • SIS addresses PCT applicants’ concerns about new prior art being found once they have already incurred significant costs and entered the national phase; and
  • provides extra information in cases where the applicant believes that the commercial value of an invention warrants the additional expense in the international phase.

Consult information also in the report in document  PCT/MIA/20/5 PDF and PCT/WG/8/6 PDF.

For supplementary search request for which the 19-month time limit has not yet expired on 1 July 2017, the time limit has been extended from 19 to 22 months from the priority date.

The PATENTSCOPE search engine

WIPO Arbitration & Mediation Center

Gives 25% reduction in the registration and administration fees for its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services where at least one party to the dispute has been named as an applicant or inventor in a published PCT application
(PCT Newsletter, June 2012, page 8PDF).


A platform that matches owners of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs) with those seeking licensing or partnership agreements. Listing your ESTs in the WIPO GREEN platform is free of charge and offers a practical additional means for seeking potential licensees or partners.

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