Everything You Need to Know about PCT

If you want to patent an invention or need to get involved with the world of patenting in some regard, you need to understand what PCT is and how it affects the international rules of patenting. PCT stands for the Patent Cooperation Treaty, a patent law treaty signed in 1970. In essence, it is a set of legal regulations that govern the procedure of patent application in all the countries that contract PCT.

One creates a PCT application, also known as an international patent application, in one language. The application is filed with the RO (Receiving Office). Next, it gets transferred to the ISA (International Searching Authority) that conducts a thorough search for similar patented objects. The applicant also receives an official opinion about the patentability of the invention. If all the necessary examinations are cleared successfully, the applicant’s national patenting authority issues a patent.

Technically, filing a PCT application doesn’t guarantee that you will actually receive the patent, because there are no “international patents”. The issue of patents is handled by the local authorities. This means that every country that contracts PCT must decide whether it agrees with issuing this particular patent. Because of this, you may be able to get the exclusive rights you seek only in some of the countries. However, filing a PCT application makes the process much easier and cheaper on the inventor, because it relieves him or her from the need to appeal to every country’s patenting authority individually.

History and Member Countries

Although the treaty itself was signed in 1970, it became active only in 1978. The first PCT application was filed on the 1st of June 1978. The International Patent Cooperation Union (an organization that consists of the countries that contract the PCT) started with 18 member countries.

Over the years, IPCU has evolved, and today almost every country (148 countries total) in the world is a member of this union. The most notable exceptions from the list are Taiwan and Argentina. Saudi Arabia and Iran were the last countries to join the IPCU. They became members in 2013.

There are very few types of inventions that do not fall under the PCT’s regulations. This means that every person who believes that he or she has indeed developed a notable invention can try applying for an international patent. The best thing about this is that after the official search is complete and you are presented with the report, you will be able to see whether acquiring patents in all the countries you aim for will indeed be profitable for your business.


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