PCT Newsletter 12/2018: 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.

Finding out when an international application will be published

Q:  Several weeks ago, I filed an international application, and I would now like to know how I can I find out the exact date on which my application will be published?

A:  In accordance with PCT Article 21(2)(a), the publication of an international application normally takes place promptly after the expiration of 18 months from the priority date.  However, it can take place earlier than this if the applicant (or the applicant’s appointed agent) has specifically requested the International Bureau (IB), in accordance with PCT Article 21(2)(b), to publish it before the expiration of that time limit. 

Publication of international applications usually takes place every Thursday, except where a Thursday falls on a non‑working day at the IB, in which case the alternative publication day is announced in advance in the PCT Newsletter.  The PCT operations staff try to ensure that publication of international applications takes place on time, and in most cases, they are published very promptly in accordance with the expected timeline.  For example, in 2017, nearly 78% of international applications were published on the next publication day after the expiration of the 18‑month period and almost all of the remainder on the following publication day.  Only around 0.3% of applications were published later noting that, under exceptional circumstances, there may be a delay in the publication of an application, for example:  in the case of a late transmittal of the international application by the receiving Office due to national security controls, in case of lack of (or incomplete) payment of PCT fees that are due on filing, or in the case of other procedural constraints.

It is possible for you to find out the current scheduled date of publication for a specific international application, noting that this may still change during the course of the processing of the application.  The most efficient way of doing this is by making use of ePCT.  If you have filed your international application using ePCT‑Filing, you can view and monitor the scheduled publication date in ePCT.  You can also do this if you have filed using another mode of filing, by setting up access to your international application via ePCT and confirming eOwnership of your application.  In order to do this, you must create a WIPO account (if you do not already have one) and set up at least one strong authentication method for the account.  Further information on confirming eOwnership of a PCT application is available at:

www.wipo.int/pct/en/epct/learnmore.html?N=543

Once you have accessed your international application via ePCT, you will be able to access information relating to the publication of your application from the “Timeline” section, where you can see a summary of the key dates for your application, and obtain the required information by clicking on “Target Pub Date”.  You can also find the information concerning the publication in the “Data” section, under subsection “International Publication”.  This information includes:

  • the international publication date and international publication number, or, if the application has not yet been published, it will read “Not yet published”;
  • the current target date for international publication;
  • information on whether early publication has been requested; and
  • a link to preview the publication front page.

It is important to be aware that, as long as international publication has not actually taken place, the “current target date for publication” is the scheduled date of publication, and could still be subject to change.

In addition to this information, if you have activated your ePCT notifications, you will also automatically receive a reminder two weeks before the completion of technical preparations for publication by way of an e‑mail and/or an ePCT notification (it is recalled that no changes can be made to the international application after the completion of technical preparations for publication). 

Although making use of ePCT to find out the scheduled publication date of your international application is the most efficient way of doing this, if you do not have access to your international application in ePCT, you do also have the possibility of contacting the authorized officer at WIPO who is responsible for your international application.  You can find the contact information at the bottom of Form PCT/IB/301 (Notification of receipt of record copy), which has been sent to you in relation to your application.  Note that the authorized officer will confirm the targeted publication date in writing to you (using Form PCT/IB/345) as soon as he/she receives your request.  In order to ensure that you receive this information promptly, you should always authorize the IB to send notifications to you by e‑mail (by checking the corresponding box at the bottom of the first page of the request form (Form PCT/RO/101) or by sending a separate letter).

You also have the possibility of finding out the approximate scheduled publication date for your international application yourself using the PCT Time Limit Calculator, which will quickly enable you to calculate many of the due dates under the PCT by simply entering the priority date of your international application.  One of those due dates is the “earliest potential date for international publication”, which is calculated as the first Thursday following the expiration of 18 months from the priority date.  The PCT Time Limit Calculator is available at:

www.wipo.int/pct/en/calculator/pct-calculator.html

Please note, however, that you should only use the PCT Time Limit Calculator to obtain an approximate date, and it may be more reliable, especially closer to the time of the scheduled publication date, to consult the relevant information in ePCT or contact the authorized WIPO officer in order to get a more accurate date.