Progress is made in Negotiations to Reform PCT

Geneva, July 12, 2002
Press Updates UPD/2002/172

Reform of the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international filing mechanism that facilitates the process of obtaining patent protection in as many as 116 countries, moved ahead last week with the approval, by the Committee on Reform of the PCT, of a set of measures that will simplify and streamline the system's procedures. The proposed amendments to the PCT Regulations will be submitted for adoption to the Assembly of the International Patent Cooperation Treaty Union (PCT Union) in September 2002. The Committee, which met in Geneva from July 1 to 5, 2002, was attended by representatives from 50 member states of the PCT Union and a representative of one member intergovernmental organization. Five member states of the International Union for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris Union), 4 intergovernmental organizations and 11 international and national non-governmental organizations also attended as observers.

The proposals, which take into account the results of the work of the Working Group on Reform of the PCT (see WIPO Update 164/2002, dated May 14, 2002), include plans for an enhanced international search and preliminary examination system. This is an important first step in rationalizing procedures associated with PCT international search and international preliminary examination. It will ultimately enable greater convergence of international and national procedures. The international search and international preliminary examination reports provide applicants seeking patent protection in multiple countries more information about the patentability of an invention before incurring the costs of the patent granting procedure in each of the countries designated.

Member states also agreed to overhaul procedures relating to the system of designating countries in which patent protection is sought ("the designation system"). The proposed new PCT designation system would bring the operation of that system into line with the way in which most applicants and Offices today perceive and use it.

The Committee also agreed on proposals for further work to reform the PCT system. Such a program of work would be handled in two additional sessions of the Working Group on PCT Reform and would include a detailed review of outstanding reform proposals and consideration of the options available for revising the Treaty itself.

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