When you are seeking to file a PCT application, you must have a clear view of the PCT Timeline. The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international patent law treaty that assists patent applicants to seek patent protection internationally. There are 152 contracting states under the PCT and they all are under the control of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). By filing one PCT application, one can simultaneously seek protection for an invention in a large number of countries. A majority of the world’s countries are parties to the PCT, including all of the major industrialized countries.
Procedure for PCT Timeline:
There are a few steps that you need to follow to file a PCT application. PCT offers an alternative route to file a patent application in several countries simultaneously, so the applicants tend to go for it. It saves the cost of filing a patent application in every country. The procedure for filing a PCT application is:
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- Local filing of the application: The first step of the PCT Timeline process is to file the local application with the Indian Patent Office. It sets the priority date after which one can file a PCT application. It is essential for you to file a local patent application as you cannot file a PCT application without the local filing. The Indian patent office again deals with the application once the international phase ends.
- Filing of the PCT application: The filing of a PCT application takes place after the local filing. You can file an international application with a national or a regional patent office after 12 months from the priority date. While filing a PCT application, you need to comply with the PCT formal requirements in one language and pay one set of fees. The nomination of all the contracting states is automatic on filing the PCT application.
- International Search: After filing the PCT application, an international search by the “International Searching Authority” (ISA) starts after 16 months from the priority date. ISA finds the most relevant prior art documents regarding the claims of the subject matter. The search result in the “International Search Report” (ISR) establishes a written opinion regarding patentability. This search report shows whether an invention is patentable or not.
- International Publication: International Publication of the PCT application is the next step of the PCT Timeline process. International Bureau at the WIPO publishes the PCT application. The disclosure of the content of the international application takes place after 18 months of the earliest filing. The publication of the PCT application can also take place early on request of the patent applicant.
- Supplementary International Search (optional): Supplementary International Search is an optional process for the patent applicant. Although it is optional, applicants tend to go for this process. Supplementary International Search permits the applicant to request for one or more supplementary searches. This search is in addition to the main international search. “International Authority” carries out this search rather than the “ISA”, which carries out the main international search. Requesting supplementary international search reduces the risk of citing a new prior art while the national phase process.
- International Preliminary Examination (optional): “International Preliminary Examination” (IPE) helps to seek an additional patentability analysis on the request of the patent applicant. This is also an optional process. The “International Preliminary Examination Authority” (IPEA) conducts this examination after 22 months from the priority date. The objective of this examination is to formulate the novelty of the claimed invention. This results in an “International Preliminary Examination Report” (IPER). One must demand to file “IPE” within the time limit. It subjects a preliminary examination fee for benefit of the “IPEA”.
- PCT National Phase Entry: Finally, at 30 months from the priority date, the international phase ends. The PCT application enters the national phase. The national phase of the PCT application resembles the national filing in each of the contracting states. The decision to grant a patent in one’s country now depends on the patent office of the respective country. Although, the national examiner often follows the search report conducted in the international phase.
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