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PCT Newsletter 01/2011: Practical Advice

WARNING: Although the information which follows was correct at the time of original publication in the PCT Newsletter, some information may no longer be applicable; for example, amendments may have been made to the PCT Regulations and Administrative Instructions, as well as to PCT Forms, since the PCT Newsletter concerned was published; changes to certain fees and references to certain publications may no longer be valid. Wherever there is a reference to a PCT Rule, please check carefully whether the Rule in force at the date of publication of the advice has since been amended.

Amendments to the title of the invention

Q:  I have seen in one of my published international applications that the title of the invention is not the same as the title as given in the request form and on the first page of the description.  Is it possible to have the title corrected and the international application republished?

A:  If the title has been published incorrectly due to a data entry error by the International Bureau (IB), then your international application will be republished with the correct title.  However, in your specific case, the original title was not approved by the International Searching Authority (ISA), and the ISA established a different title. 

PCT Rule 4.3 states that the title of the invention should be short (preferably two to seven words when in English or translated into English) and precise.  In accordance with PCT Rule 44.2, the international search report (ISR) (Form PCT/ISA/210) will either state that the ISA approves the title as submitted by the applicant or, if the ISA finds that the title does not comply with PCT Rule 4.3, it will establish the title itself under PCT Rule 37.2 and the ISR will be accompanied by the text of the title as established by the ISA. 

For the purposes of the international phase, therefore, it is the ISA which determines the title, and in your case, it was the title as established by the ISA that was published with your international application.  You were informed about the change of title in item 4 on the first sheet of the ISR which was issued in respect of your international application.

Generally, the PCT does not provide for any possibility, during the international phase, for the applicant to comment on any change made by the ISA to the title of the PCT application (as distinct from the abstract, in respect of which, if it has been established by the ISA under PCT Rule 38.2, the applicant is entitled to propose modifications or send comments within a period of one month from the transmittal of the ISR).  Nevertheless, nothing in the PCT would prevent you from contacting the ISA which established the ISR to suggest that it reconsiders the title and issues a revised ISR.  If the ISA agrees with your views, it may change the title again, however the ISA has no obligation to take into account any comments from the applicant, and it is fairly unlikely that an ISA would do so unless the changed title contained a mistake. 

Generally, applicants have the possibility to ask for a review of the title by the IPEA, if they file a demand for international preliminary examination (this is possible by means of filing amendments to the description under PCT Article 34), although this would not result in a republication of the international application with the amended title.  It may not be worth your while to do this if you were otherwise not intending to file a demand.  In any case, applicants are provided with another opportunity, under PCT Article 28, to amend their international application upon entry into the national phase, therefore, you could take up the matter of changing the title of the invention directly before each designated Office upon national phase entry.

Therefore, in the above-mentioned case, unless the ISA informs the IB that the title has been modified further, the international application will not be republished.