What is the PCT patent application?
The PCT patent application is sometimes referred to as the “international patent application”, and is short for the Patent Cooperation Treaty.
The PCT patent application is primarily used by patent applicants to extend the international patent pending stage and is usually filed after the the provisional patent application and prior filing patent applications in each country of interest.
As such, having utilised the 12 months of international patent pending provided by the provisional patent application, patent applicants can obtain a further 18 months of international patent pending before having to choose countries of interest.
In this way, by utilising the PCT patent application in conjunction with the provisional patent application, or by filing the PCT patent application in the first instance, patent applicants can have up to 2.5 years in which to commercialise their ideas before having to choose their countries would of interest.
The PCT patent application process
The PCT Patent Application process is shown as follows:
Now, let’s consider the advantages of the PCT patent application:
Advantage 1: Pushing back costs
A main advantage of the PCT patent application is pushing back the costs of national stage entry. National stage entry is a stage at which patent applications are filed in each country of interest and is typically the most expensive part of the patent application process, especially where a large number of countries is selected.
Generally, where more than three countries are considered for patent protection, it makes sense to file the PCT patent application to push back the costs for national stage entry in each country by a further 18 months. This can be a sensible approach, especially for start-ups.
Advantage 2: Centralised examination
A further advantage of the PCT patent application is a centralised examination. During this examination, the International examiner will issue an opinion as to the novelty and inventive step of each aspect (claim) of the invention. While this is an opinion only, it is persuasive on the examiners in each country down the track.
In other words, if the International examiner issues a favourable written opinion, the national examiners in each subsequent national phase country would be persuaded by the written opinion and probably similarly accept the patent application.
In this way, there can be significant cost savings in only having conducting this centralised examination only, rather than duplicative examination in each national phase country.
Advantage 3: Raising investment capital
A great advantage of the PCT patent application is for the purposes of raising investment capital. Generally, at the start of the patent application process, investors may be reluctant to invest because it is yet uncertain as to whether the patent application will be granted.
However, to obtain certainly early on in the patent application process, one can rely on the PCT written opinion as being highly indicative of the scope of eventual patent protection in each country down the track. If one obtains a clear written opinion, investors would be encouraged as to the security of their investment and therefore be more willing to provide investment capital.
If you have an idea or invention that you believe can be commercialised internationally, the need to raise investment capital and keep your patenting costs to a minimum please contact us today so that we can formulate a strategy for achieving this.