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. This application may be filed by anyone who is a national or resident of a Contracting State. It may generally be filed with the national patent office of the Contracting State of which the applicant is a national or resident or with the International Bureau of WIPO in Geneva.
The international application is then subjected to what is called an “international search.” That search is carried out by one of the major patent office’s appointed by the PCT Assembly as an International Searching Authority (ISA). The search results in an “international search report,” is a listing of the citations of such published documents that might affect the patentability of the invention claimed in the international application. At the same time, the ISA prepares a written opinion on patentability.
The international search report and the written opinion are communicated by the ISA to the applicant who may decide to withdraw his application, in particular where the said report or opinion makes the granting of patents unlikely.
If the international application is not withdrawn it along with the search report published by the international bureau. The written opinion is not published.