International PCT Application

Under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), a single international PCT application may establish a filing date in treaty countries.  This allows an applicant to prepare and file a single patent application, and thus pay one professional fee (i.e., attorney fee), for preparing and filing the application, and one official filing fee to the Patent Office in which the application is filed (referred to as the Receiving Office).  See PCT Fees if filing in the USPTO as the Receiving Office.  

The PCT application is a vehicle through which an applicant may defer filing decisions, if the applicant is uncertain about where to file patent applications.  It also allows an applicant to defer filing costs, which allows the applicant to budget for filing patent applications in individual countries. 

The PCT application also functions to provide additional time for further product development and product testing, and time for testing market acceptance in the global marketplace prior to investing in patent applications in various countries.  

It should be noted that national stage applications must be filed in individual countries within 30-31 months of the filing date of the PCT application, depending on the country (see Time Limits for Entering National/Regional Phase).  This period may be extended in certain countries in accordance with their laws. 

If the national stage applications are not timely filed, the benefit of the filing date of the PCT application will be lost.  Additionally, the national stage application must cross reference or claim priority to the PCT application, or the priority claim will not be perfected, and the benefit of the filing date of the PCT application will be lost. 

If you have a question about international PCT applications, askme at