International PCT Patent Applications
An international patent application or ‘PCT’ patent application is an application designating most countries of interest to patentees. The most notable exception is Taiwan. A full list of PCT contracting states may be found here:
A PCT application does not result in a ‘worldwide’ patent – there is no such thing. Instead, 30 or 31 months (normally, depending on territory) from the priority date the application must be converted into separate national and regional applications.
So why file one? It can increase the overall cost of seeking patent protection by over £3000.
The PCT application simply buys an applicant an additional 18 months from first filing their UK application to find the funds to pay for separate national/regional applications. This can be particularly useful if investment is required and protection is desired in a lot of countries.
A PCT application also keeps the applicant’s options open as to the choice of countries. If the invention is still being tested to see whether or not it is likely to be a commercial success then delaying the choice of whether or not to seek protection in a particular country can be beneficial.
A third reason to file a PCT application is to address patentability objections before entering national/regional phases. As part of the PCT application process a patentability search and examination is done. The applicant has the opportunity to respond to the examination report and attempt to overcome any objections to patentability. This does incur further additional costs, but these costs can be much lower than the cost of addressing objections in the national/regional phases (where foreign attorney charges would be incurred in each country).
However, the PCT process is not for everyone. If you are sure about the country or countries that you want protection in then you might choose to file direct national /regional applications. This is often the case with applicants that know they only want protection in a single country (normally the US).
Contact us for more information on PCT patent applications.