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Administrative Instructions under the Patent Cooperation Treaty

Section 704
Receipt; International Filing Date; Signature; Physical Requirements

(a)  The receiving Office shall promptly11 notify the applicant of, or otherwise enable the applicant to obtain confirmation of, the receipt of any purported international application filed with it in electronic form. The notification or confirmation shall indicate or contain:

(i) the identity of the Office;

(ii) the date of receipt;12

(iii) any reference number or application number assigned to the purported application by the Office; and

(iv) a message digest, generated by the Office, of the purported application as received;

and may, at the option of the Office, also indicate or contain other information such as:

(v) the names and sizes of the electronic files received;

(vi) the dates of creation of the electronic files received; and

(vii) a copy of the purported application as received.

(b)  Where the receiving Office refuses in accordance with Rule 89bis.1(d) or Section 703(e) to receive a purported international application submitted to it in electronic form, it shall, if practicable having regard to the indications furnished by the applicant,13 promptly notify the applicant accordingly.

(c)  Promptly after receiving a purported international application in electronic form, the receiving Office shall determine whether the purported application complies with the requirements of Article 11(1) and shall proceed accordingly.

(d)  Where an international application filed in electronic form is not signed in compliance with Section 703(c), the application shall be considered not to comply with the requirements of Article 14(1)(a)(i) and the receiving Office shall proceed accordingly.

(e)  Where an international application filed in electronic form does not comply with Section 703(b) but the receiving Office decides, under Section 703(e), to receive it, that non-compliance shall be considered to be non-compliance with the physical requirements referred to in Article 14(1)(a)(v) and the receiving Office shall proceed accordingly, having regard to whether compliance is necessary for the purpose of reasonably uniform international publication (Rule 26.3) and satisfactory electronic communications.14

(f)  An international application filed in electronic form may, in accordance with the provisions of Rule 19.4, be transmitted by the Office with which the application was filed to the International Bureau as receiving Office.

(g)  Where an international application filed in electronic form was signed using a type of electronic signature that complies with the basic common standard but that has not been specified by the receiving Office under Section 703(c), the Office may require that any subsequent document or correspondence submitted to it in electronic form be signed using a type of electronic signature that has been so specified. If that requirement is not complied with, Rule 92.1(b) and (c) shall apply mutatis mutandis

11.  Editor’s Note: Numbers of provisions in the Regulations and Administrative Instructions require "prompt" official action. The question of what is "prompt" in given circumstances is not defined in absolute terms but should be explained in the PCT Receiving Office Guidelines. In the context of Section 704(a), the notification should generally issue in minutes rather than hours or days. The various indications referred to in the Section may in some cases have to be notified or confirmed at different times, for example, in the case of batch submissions of documents.

12.  Editor’s Note: The date of receipt will be determined according to the usual principles applicable to the filing of applications on paper, including filing by electronic means (such as by facsimile transmission).

13.  Editor’s Note: The receiving Office will, of course, be obliged to act reasonably in deciding what is "practicable" in the circumstances. While a filing date should be accorded wherever it is practicable to do so, it needs to be remembered that receiving Offices are not obliged to receive international applications which do not comply with Annex F (see Section 703(e)). Receiving Offices should not have to go to extreme lengths to find applicants who have not given adequate indications to enable them to be contacted.

14.  Editor’s Note: The application of the criteria of "reasonably uniform international publication" and "satisfactory electronic communications" act as a restraint against overly strict enforcement of physical requirements by receiving Offices, similarly to Rule 26.3 which refers to "reasonably uniform international publication" and "satisfactory reproduction" in the case of applications filed on paper.