PCT Reforms Kick In on New Year's Day

Geneva, December 23, 2003
Press Releases PR/2003/372

As of January 1, 2004, the first critical steps in seeking patent protection in multiple countries will be easier as a result of reforms to the international patent filing system. A series of reforms to the World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), ranging from a new simplified system of designating countries in which patent protection is sought to an enhanced search and preliminary examination system, will simplify the complex procedure of obtaining patent protection in several countries.

The PCT, a highly successful international filing system for patents, simplifies the first steps that all inventors and applicants seeking international protection must take and as such is the preferred filing route for many companies as well as lone inventors.

The reform process, launched under the auspices of WIPO in mid-2001, seeks to improve the efficiency of the PCT and to facilitate the ability of inventors and applicants to obtain patents worldwide in more than 120 countries by submitting a single "international" application. The rapid increase in the demand for patent applications globally and the growing technological complexity of patent applications have severely tested the capacity of patent offices throughout the world to deal with the rising number of applications in a timely and efficient manner. These factors, coupled with a growing momentum to develop more efficient worldwide patent systems have prompted the reform drive by the various stakeholders in their endeavor to develop an international system that is accessible, fair and balanced.

Through the reform process, and in less than three years, significant improvements have been introduced in the legal framework which will generate benefits for users as soon as they come into effect. These include:

  • A simplified designation procedure and fee structure. Under the new system, all available countries will be designated for all types of protection (national, regional) when filing a PCT application. Consequently, the international filing fee will no longer include a "designation" component. The current small excess page fee applicable to larger applications, however, will still apply.
  • A new enhanced search and examination system providing an international search and opinion on compliance with main patentability criteria will be available very early in the procedure;
  • IP offices that are entrusted with processing the applications through the various steps of the procedure will be better equipped to handle their workload while maintaining the quality of services provided;
  • Reduced duplication of work in the processing of PCT applications during the international and national phases;
  • Centralized availability to third parties of international preliminary examination reports (past, present and future cases) through a request to WIPO.

For further background information, on the PCT System, please consult https://www.wipo.int/pct/en/index.html and on PCT Reform, please refer to https://www.wipo.int/pct/reform/en/index.html or contact the Media Relations and Public Affairs section at:

  • Tel: (+41 22) - 338 81 61 or 338 95 47