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The PCT Learning Center offers timely seminars and forums that deliver the tools necessary for patent professionals to adeptly use the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). Highly-skilled trainers use state-of-the-art materials proven effective worldwide for educating patent professionals both new to the PCT, as well as those updating and enhancing their proficiency.
Our PCT Seminars have been attended by hundreds of patent professionals from across the USA, Canada and Europe. Past Seminars: Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, California, Georgia and Washington State.
Benefits to Patent Professionals
Patent Attorneys/Agents – Understand the PCT and know when it is right for your clients to enhance their patent portfolios internationally. The seminars include strategies on using the PCT including the PCT-PPH route.
Patent Administrators/Paralegals – Gain in-depth knowledge of the PCT to facilitate proper administration of the PCT process for your firm, corporation, or organization.
Patent Portfolio Managers – Learn how to best use the PCT as an important tool of international patent portfolio management.
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and offers patent applicants an advantageous route for obtaining patent protection internationally. Since entering into force in 1978, the PCT has served as an alternative to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) for acquiring patent rights in different countries. Starting with only 18 Members in 1978, in 2013 there are 148 PCT Contracting States.
Overview of the PCT System
An applicant must file a PCT application at a Receiving Office and choose an International Searching Authority (ISA) that will provide an International Search Report (ISR) and a written opinion on the poten- tial patentability of the invention. The International Bureau (IB) of WIPO publishes the application and communicates it, along with necessary supporting documents, to patent offices of countries (or regions) party to the PCT System. After receiving the ISR and written opinion, the applicant can choose to request a supplementary international search with Supplementary International Searching Authority (SISA) and/or to file a demand for international preliminary examination with an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA). The applicant has, in general, 30 months from the priority date to enter the PCT nation- al phase in countries or regions in which protection is sought.
Advantages of the PCT
Applicants and patent offices of PCT Contracting States benefit from uniform formality requirements, international search, supplementary international search and preliminary examination reports and centralized international publication – all by paying one set of fees. PCT applicants save time as work performed during international processing is generally not repeated by each national or regional office. In addition, compared to the “Paris Convention” route, applicants can delay the examination procedures at national patent offices as well as the payment of associated legal fees and translation costs. By deferring national and regional procedures, applicants gain time to make decisions on the potential commercialization of the invention and in which markets to seek patent protection.
Filing of PCT Applications
Generally, applicants seeking to protect an invention in more than one country first file a national or regional patent application with their national or regional patent office. Within 12 months from the filing date of that first application (a time limit set by the Paris Convention), they file an international application under the PCT with a Receiving Office, i.e., the respective national or regional patent office or the IB, in a language accepted by the Receiving Office, thus beginning the “international phase”. A patent application filed through the PCT System is a PCT international application, referred to hereafter as a PCT application. Only a national or a resident of a PCT Contracting State can file a PCT application. If several applicants are named in a PCT application, at least one of them must comply with this requirement.
Applicant can file a single, uniform international application in one language to seek patent protection in a large number of countries, thereby avoiding the need to file several separate applications, possibly in different languages, at each national or regional patent office. At the moment of filing, all Contracting States are automatically designated in the application, but the applicant ultimately decides in which national or regional offices to seek patent protection. It should be noted that an “international patent”, as such, does not exist and that the granting of patents remains under the control of national or regional patent offices in what is called the “national phase” (see below).
The international phase usually lasts for a period of 18 months from the filing of the priority application and mainly consists of a formal examination of the application, international search, optional supplementary international search, optional international preliminary examination and international publication of the application.
The Receiving Office transmits a copy of the PCT application to the IB, which is responsible for: receiving and storing all application documents; performing a second formalities examination; translating the title and abstract of the PCT application and certain associated documents into English and/or French, where necessary; publishing the application and related documents on PATENTSCOPE®; communicating documents to offices and third parties; providing legal advice to users on request; and providing PCT-related assistance to PCT Member States.
PCT applications are subject to an international search by one of the 14 ISAs which, in turn, identify the prior art relevant to the patentability of the invention; draft (or “establish”) an ISR; and provide a written opinion on the invention’s potential patentability. That opinion can assist the applicant in deciding whether to continue to seek protection for the invention. If the written opinion is unfavorable, the applicant may amend the application to improve the probability of obtaining a patent, or withdraw the application before incurring additional costs.
Supplementary International Search
The PCT Supplementary International Search (SIS) service offers applicants the option to request searches in additional languages, in addition to the searches performed by the ISA selected by the applicant. The service aims to provide a more complete overview of the prior art in the international phase. Applicants can request a Supplementary International Search Report (SISR) by an SISA up to 19 months from the priority date.
International Preliminary Examination
After receiving the ISA’s written opinion, applicants can request that an optional international preliminary examination, a second evaluation of the invention’s patentability, be carried out by an IPEA, usually on an amended version of the application. (All ISAs are also IPEAs.) The resulting International Preliminary Report on Patentability (IPRP II) will further assist the applicant in determining whether to enter the national phase.
Under the PCT, applicants have at least 18 months from the date on which the PCT application was filed before entering the national phase at individual patent offices. This 18-month delay affords the applicant additional time – compared to that provided under the Paris Convention – to evaluate the chances of obtaining a patent and plan how to use the invention commercially in the countries where protection is sought. In the national phase, each patent office is responsible for examining the application in accordance with its national patent law and deciding whether or not to grant patent protection. The time required for the examination and grant of a patent varies across patent offices.