The International Patent System: Four Decades and Going Strong.

January 31, 2018

WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) marked on January 24, 2018, the 40th anniversary of the day the treaty entered into force in 13 original signatory countries, with operations beginning on June 1, 1978.

Since then, the PCT has grown to include 152 Contracting States; through the filing of one international patent application under the PCT, applicants can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in all of those countries. 

The world’s largest companies, as well as individual inventors, universities and research institutions, find that the PCT eases the process of seeking patent protection in PCT member countries. This, in turn, facilitates the worldwide spread of the kinds of innovations that have changed lives the world over.

In 2016 alone, some 233,000 applications were filed under the PCT, representing a 7 percent year on year growth in use of the system—strong growth is also expected to have taken place in 2017. In total, some 3.3 million applications have transited the PCT system since 1978.