1. These Guidelines are intended to assist receiving Offices in carrying out the duties entrusted to them under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and provide them with reference material that can assist them in processing international applications under the PCT. They describe the tasks of a receiving Office in relation to relevant PCT procedures.
2. The Guidelines recommend to receiving Offices a system for carrying out their duties under the PCT. Applying that system to the extent possible is of great importance in order to ensure uniform processing of all international applications by all receiving Offices. However, the Guidelines do not cover all possible procedures within a receiving Office and not all tasks referred to need to be performed with regard to each international application. Rarely occurring or particularly complex situations have not been included.
3. For complete information, consultation of the official texts, particularly the PCT itself, the Regulations under the PCT and the Administrative Instructions under the PCT, is indispensable. In case of any inconsistency with these Guidelines, it is those texts which apply.
4. References in these Guidelines to “Articles” are references to those of the Treaty, to “Rules” to those of the Regulations under the PCT, to “Sections” to those of the Administrative Instructions under the PCT, and to paragraphs to those of these Guidelines. The forms to be used by the receiving Office are contained in Part I of Annex A to the Administrative Instructions.
5. These Guidelines contain in some cases references to the Notes to the request form (Form PCT/RO/101); they also contain references to the PCT Applicant’s Guide to the extent that they appear to be useful for receiving Offices to carry out their duties.
6. References to “national” Office, “national” phase and “national” fees cover also the procedure before a regional patent Office.
7. A reference to “national law” includes reference to a regional treaty such as the Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs within the framework of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (the “ARIPO Harare Protocol”), the Eurasian Patent Convention, the European Patent Convention, or the Agreement establishing the African Intellectual Property Organization (the “OAPI Agreement”).
8. The expression “international phase,” which is not used in the Treaty or the other official texts mentioned above but which has become customary, is commonly used as opposed to the subsequent “national phase” of processing before the national or regional Offices. The international phase encompasses the period from the filing of the international application by the applicant and its processing by the receiving Office, the establishment of the international search report and written opinion by the International Searching Authority, and the international publication of the international application by the International Bureau. It also comprises the (optional) international preliminary examination procedure before the International Preliminary Examining Authority.
9. Whenever the word “applicant” is used, it shall be construed as meaning also the agent (or common representative, where applicable) of the applicant, except where the contrary clearly follows from the wording or the nature of the provision, or the context in which the word is used, for example, in those parts of the Guidelines which deal with representation.
10. The various tasks which a receiving Office may be required to perform when processing an international application are presented in these Guidelines in an order which, in general, corresponds to the chronological sequence in which these tasks are performed. However, some tasks, such as, for example, those relating to the appointment of an agent or the renunciation or revocation of such an appointment, may arise at any time during the international phase; other tasks may, in practice and depending on the case, be more easily carried out concurrently or in a sequence different from that in which they are dealt with in these Guidelines.
11. Formal requirements and corrections of defects are sometimes referred to in separate Chapters or parts thereof, taking into account the fact that there is not always a single or obligatory way of correcting a given defect. In certain cases, the receiving Office may use its discretion and, where appropriate, contact the applicant, before deciding on how to proceed, for example, whether to correct a defect ex officio or to invite the applicant to correct that defect.
13. Annex B to these Guidelines contains examples of typical errors made by applicants in international applications together with an indication of how such defects should be corrected.