Press Release PR/2003/350
Geneva, August 26, 2003


Dutch electronics giant Philips (Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.) became the first this week to file a fully electronic international application under the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) with WIPO as receiving office using PCT-SAFE ("Secure Applications Filed Electronically") software. The availability of this upgraded secure electronic filing facility within the WIPO receiving office means that PCT users can now file their international applications either on-line or using physical media such as CD-R. This heralds a new era in the operations of the PCT, the cornerstone treaty of the international patent system. The availability of secure electronic filing will translate into significant efficiency gains both for users of the system and for WIPO which administers the PCT.

This first PCT-SAFE filing on August 25, 2003 by Philips, the largest user of the PCT, marks the start of a transition out of the pilot test phase for this software which began on November 27, 2002. The pilot phase provides an opportunity for PCT users and WIPO to test and evaluate the PCT-SAFE system using real international applications. During the pilot , 49 applicants from around the world have been entitled to file international applications using the software with WIPO as receiving office.

Mr. Francis Gurry, WIPO Assistant Director General, who oversees the PCT, welcomed the first fully electronic filing by Philips. "We are delighted that the largest user of the PCT, Philips, has recognized the efficiency gains that will result from electronic filing. We are always in search of new means of making the PCT more efficient and effective. Electronic filing is one such means, " he said.

Philips' Chief Executive Officer of Intellectual Property and Standards, Mr. Ruud Peters, said his firm plans to make extensive use of the PCT-SAFE software as this would translate into significant savings for his company, which has chosen the PCT as its preferred route for seeking international patent protection. "Filing patents on-line at WIPO means a huge step forward for our patent creation process," he said. "As we are constantly looking for ways to improve our business process and be cost-effective, this new service fits perfectly in our strategy."

The PCT-SAFE software, which is expected to be available to all users of the PCT by the end of 2003, offers PCT applicants significant benefits. Users will be able to submit validated applications without the printing, copying and mailing normally associated with such a transaction. PCT-SAFE will also allow users to receive almost immediate notification that their application has been received and is being processed. The PCT-SAFE development was made possible through the adoption by the industrial property offices of the PCT contracting states of a legal framework and technical standard necessary for the implementation of electronic filing and processing of international applications, and its subsequent promulgation.

Sustained growth in the use of the PCT, which is now handling over 100,000 international applications per year, and the increasing complexity of applications, in particular, from the biotechnology sector, has prompted WIPO to look for business solutions to handling such large amounts of data while still providing a value for money, quality service to users. PCT-SAFE will play a key role in ensuring the timely receipt and processing of international applications filed under the PCT. The importance of this development and its associated benefits have already been recognized by major users of the PCT, such as Philips, who registered to participate in the pilot testing program of the new system.

WIPO will continue to provide information about developments in the PCT-SAFE project through the WIPO PCT web site at, the PCT Newsletter and the WIPO Magazine. A WIPO publication entitled "What is PCT-SAFE?" (reference number 496) is also available.

The PCT was concluded in 1970 and entered into force in 1978 with the adherence of 18 countries. Today, the PCT offers advantages to patent applicants, national patent offices, and the public in the 122 states that have joined the system. Instead of filing separate national patent applications with the office of each country in which a patent is sought, the PCT allows an inventor to file one "international" application in one language and to seek protection simultaneously in all its member states. The effect of such an international application in each "designated state" is the same as if a national or regional patent application had been filed with the national patent office of that country or the relevant regional patent office.

The PCT offers applicants up to 18 months more time (or even more in some cases) than they would have under the traditional patent system to decide whether and for which countries they wish to pursue patent protection. In this way, they delay, by the same number of months, the expenses of translating the application, paying national fees and appointing local patent agents. In addition, as the result of the PCT's international search and (optional) international preliminary examination procedures, PCT applicants possess detailed, high-value information on which to base decisions of whether it is worthwhile to continue to seek patents for their inventions. They also benefit from the uniform formality requirements and centralized international publication provided by the PCT system.

For further information please contact the Media Relations and Public Affairs Section Section at:

  • Tel: (+41 22) - 338 81 61 or 338 95 47
  • Fax: (+41 22) - 338 88 10
  • Email: