Patent Cooperation Treaty

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Patent Cooperation Treaty

Summary of Patent Cooperation Treaty

An international agreement which permits nationals and residents of any adhering state to seek patent protection in any or all of the adhering states by means of a single patent application. The applicant files his application with the national patent office of the country of which he is a citizen or resident, specifying the “designated states”where he seeks patent protection. If the applicant is a national or resident of a state which is an adherent to the European Patent Convention (read this and related legal terms for further details), the application may be filed with European Patent Office. Nationals or residents of countries which are members of the African Intellectual Property Organization may file with WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization (read this and related legal terms for further details). Each designated state regards the international patent application as a direct application to its national patent office. If a designated state is an adherent to the European Patent Convention the applicant may request a European, rather than a national, patent. Persons listing Belgium or France as designated states will be obliged to request a European patent.

The application is processed by one of the major national patent offices or the European Patent Office, resulting in an “international search”of patents already on file in the countries listed in the application. An “international search report”will be sent to the applicant and the patent offices of the countries which he has designated; in addition, the report will be published by WIPO.

Twenty months after filing the initial application, the applicant must furnish to the patent office of each nation he has selected a translation of his application into its official language and pay the appropriate fees. This period may be extended an additional five months under certain circumstances.

By filing the international patent application, the applicant reserves the right to obtain a patent in any state adhering to the treaty, and have that patent take effect from the date of his original “international”filing. In addition, the work of the national patent offices is greatly reduced since an international search has been performed to determine the novelty of the invention. The agreement was adopted in 1970, and is open to states that are party to the Paris Convention (read this and related legal terms for further details). The following states were party to the treaty in 1984:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Congo
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gabon
  • German Federal Republic
  • Hungary
  • Japan
  • Korea (North)
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mauritania
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Senegal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Togo
  • U.S.S.R.
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

(Main Author: William J. Miller)

Legal Materials

The PCT “makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention simultaneously in each of a large number of countries by filing an ‘international’ patent application.” The Treaty, regs under the treaty and the signatories to the treaty are posted in the Publications section of the WIPO Web site, along with a list of the Contracting Partiesand other PCT Resources. The Treaty is also posted by The Multilaterals Project with regulations.

WIPO’s PCT Database lets you search the first page information of PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) applications for free ( This WIPO Web site also lets you search an electronic version of the PCT Gazette, which publishes the first page of all PCT applications back to April 2, 1998. (For other free and fee-based systems that search PCT applications, see “Patents ” in this legal Encyclopedia)

See Also


Patent Cooperation Treaty and the GATT Policy Negotiations

In relation to the GATT Policy Negotiations, Christopher Mark (1993) provided the following explanation and/or definition of Patent Cooperation Treaty: An international agreement which permits nationals and residents of a signatory country to seek patent protection in any or all of the signatories by means of a single patent application. See intellectual property rights.

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in International Trade

Meaning of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), according to the Dictionary of International Trade (Global Negotiator): Established in 1978 and open to any Paris Convention member country, the PCT addresses procedural requirements in order to simplify the filing, searching and publication of international patent applications. Website. See also patent.

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