International Patent Applications under the PCT
It is possible to file an international patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT application is a bundle of multiple applications. This bundle is split into national national grant procedures in the individual states in the course of the procedure and leads to national IP rights. As a result, respective national fees are incurred and the intended IP rights are treated according to national law.
The PCT has 153 contracting states which can be designated for patent protection within the framework of an international application. For this purpose, you can file an application with the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA), which transmits your application to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The latter controls the further international procedure.
In the international phase, which begins with the international application, one of the International Searching Authorities prepares the international search report and transmits it to the applicant (for PCT applications filed with the DPMA, the International Searching Authority is the European Patent Office). Subsequently, the applicant can request preliminary examination, which will be carried out in the international phase.
Within 30 months of the priority date, the applicant must enter the national (or regional) phase separately at each designated office. Depending on the office, different provisions apply. In any case, a complete translation of the application in an official language of the designated office must be submitted (except where the language of the international application is identical with an official language of the designated office) and a national (or regional) fee must be paid.
It is only in the national (or regional) phase that the applicant must file an examination request in each country or at each office where the applicant wants to pursue the patent. In most cases, you must be represented by a lawyer or patent attorney at the respective office (domestic representative). The further patent grant procedure, particularly examination for patentability, is carried out separately at each national and regional office.
For further information about the PCT procedure, please refer to the WIPO website at www.wipo.int as well as to the German-language information leaflet concerning international (PCT) patent applications.
For an overview of the most important fees which may be incurred in connection with a PCT application, please go here.
Last updated: 4 March 2021