Why file a PCT?

In summary the PCT system allows applicants to file a single patent application in one country and for up to 30/31 months retain the option of filing a corresponding application in a large number of other countries. The PCT system can therefore be thought of as an extension of time for filing patent applications worldwide at substantially reduced prosecution costs. In addition it provides a means for getting a filing or priority date in the designated states.

In addition, one can usually tell from the International Search Report and Written Opinion that form part of prosecution, what the chances are of obtaining patent protection in the other countries. And so, if there appears to be no prospect of obtaining a patent, the international application can be abandoned. If so the applicants lose only the cost of filing a PCT application instead of the much greater cost of filing applications in countries of interest.

Finally and very importantly, the applicants get 18 months more to test the market to determine whether to proceed with patent applications. And to raise capital, to fund the filing of the desired regional/national phase applications.

Putting it best and with plenty of experience, one of the all-time biggest filers of PCTs is Phillips Electronic, and Ruud Peters, CEO of their IP department, simply sings the praises of the system:

“We file patents through PCT every day and constantly experience its many benefits. The PCT provides the global community of inventors with a uniform, efficient, single filing system that – immediately upon filing – provides protection in more than 120 countries. From the day of filing, inventors have 30 months to decide if they want to go ahead with the more costly application for a national patent in one or more countries. That’s 18 months more than the 12 months they usually get if they file directly with a national patent office.”

Mr. Peters continues that this extension is valuable as it allows more time to assess the commercial opportunities. “For all these reasons and a few more, PCT is a great tool for inventors in their endeavour to transform their ideas and discoveries into intellectual property rights. These intellectual property rights, in turn, help innovation, the goal we all want to achieve.”

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