Filing and Processing of International Applications in Electronic Form
Ceasing of development, distribution and support for the PCT‑SAFE software by the International Bureau
As from 30 June 2022, the International Bureau (IB) will end its development, distribution and support of the PCT-SAFE software; the final scheduled release will be in April 2022, and no further updates to the software will be provided after that date. It is recalled that since 1 July 2021, the International Bureau as receiving Office (RO) has no longer been accepting international applications filed in electronic form using the PCT‑SAFE software. It is expected that the few remaining ROs that currently accept PCT-SAFE filings will notify the IB that they will no longer accept PCT-SAFE filings after 30 June 2022.
Any remaining PCT‑SAFE users are strongly advised to transition to ePCT-Filing as soon as possible, if accepted by their competent RO1. For the list of ROs which accept ePCT-Filings (currently 72 Offices2), please refer to:
The IB strongly advises applicants, as from 1 July 2022, not to prepare and file PCT applications using any existing versions of the PCT-SAFE software, even if an RO has not yet formally notified the IB by that date that it will no longer accept PCT-SAFE filings. Filers who use PCT-SAFE as from 1 July 2022 will do so at their own risk.
Very few applicants still file their international applications using PCT‑SAFE, as the majority have already switched to using ePCT‑Filing in order to benefit from its many safeguards and other advantages. The main benefits of ePCT‑Filing are listed in PCT Newsletter No. 10/2020, page 3 at:
For details on all the features available in ePCT, please refer to:
A number of webinars have been given recently on the subject of ePCT-Filing. You can listen to the webinar recordings by entering your name and e-mail address, and access the PDF version of the presentations, at:
Further information on switching from PCT‑SAFE to ePCT, with a particular emphasis on PCT applicants filing with the USPTO (which uses ePCT in combination with the USPTO’s EFS‑Web system) can be found at:
the “Practical Advice” published in PCT Newsletter No. 01/2021, page 8, at: https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pctndocs/en/2021/pct_news_2021_1.pdf
PCT Newsletter No. 10/2020, page 2, at: https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pctndocs/en/2020/pct_news_2020_10.pdf
“Filing at RO/US using ePCT in combination with EFS-Web”: https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/epct/learnmore.html?N=452
Furthermore, a webinar about electronic filing with the USPTO (“ePCT‑Filing with RO/US in combination with EFS‑Web”) will take place from 16:00 to 17:30 CEST (Central European Summer Time) (10:00 to 11:30 EDT (New York time)) on 5 August 2021. If you would like to attend, please register at:
Finally, a wealth of information is available on the WIPO website to help users get started using ePCT. Please refer to:
“Filing an application”: https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/epct/learnmore.html?N=196
“Getting started”: https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/epct/learnmore.html?N=588
“eOwnership, eHandshakes and Access Rights”: https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/epct/learnmore.html?N=693
The IB is providing support for applicants and Offices throughout the transition from PCT-SAFE. For further information and assistance with the transition from PCT‑SAFE to ePCT‑Filing, please contact the PCT Operations Customer Support Section at: email@example.com
Brief history of PCT-SAFE
PCT‑SAFE was first developed as a limited pilot in 2002 and was based on its precursor, PCT‑EASY, which had been in use by an increasing number of applicants since its release on 1 January 1999. WIPO worked in collaboration with the European Patent Office (EPO) on the development of PCT‑SAFE, based on the latter’s experience with the epoline® software and their epoline® receiving servers. Initially, PCT‑SAFE filings were accepted by the IB and the EPO, but other Offices started accepting such filings as from 1 January 2004. PCT‑SAFE soon overtook PCT‑EASY in terms of numbers of users as it enabled applicants to file their applications in fully electronic form.3 By 1 January 2013, 27 ROs were accepting PCT-SAFE filings.
With the development of ePCT‑Filing (the first international application filed using ePCT was filed under its pilot phase in May 2013), and given the many advantages and safeguards that ePCT has compared with PCT-SAFE, an increasing number of ROs have enabled ePCT‑Filing. The majority of the PCT‑SAFE ROs have already stopped accepting PCT‑SAFE filings in favor of ePCT.
- It is recalled that nationals and/or residents of any PCT Contracting State may file a PCT application using ePCT if they file with RO/IB, provided that any applicable national security requirements have been met.
- The number of Offices will be 73 on 1 August 2021 as the Ministry of Economy, Department for Intellectual Property (Montenegro) as RO will start accepting such filings as from that date.
- PCT‑EASY, which was decommissioned on 1 July 2015, was only ever intended to be an interim step prior to the development of a fully electronic filing system. It allowed a diskette or CD‑R containing bibliographic data and the abstract in text format to be provided, together with a printout of the request form and the application body in paper form, at a time when it was not yet possible to submit the request form and application body in electronic form.