Rights Conferred by the Application
Filing an international patent application is the equivalent of filing a national application in all member states, on condition that national extensions indicated below are pursued within the given terms.
Download the list of member states of the Patent Cooperation Treaty from the WIPO web site.
It is possible to claim the priority of the first, prior patent application filed in one of the member states of the Paris Convention or World Trade Organization within 12 months running from the date of that first application. More than one priority is permitted. A first application for an international patent can be the basis for a priority claim when subsequent applications are filed for the same invention in other states party to the Paris Convention.
Who May Apply for an International Patent
Any natural or legal person who is a national or resident of states party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), or who has a true and operative industrial or commercial enterprise in one of such states may apply for an international patent.
Where to File the Application
Applications may be filed at the head offices of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva, at the Italian Patent and Trademark Office, at the patent office of a PCT member state or at the European Patent Office.
International Patent Application
Application for an international patent may be filed regardless of the existence of a prior national patent.
Official Languages of the International Patent Office
Chinese, French, Japanese, English, Russian, Spanish and German are the official languages to be used for the application.
Search and Examination
The International Office carries out a search on the novelty of the invention which is then made available to the applicant. It is consequently possible to request a preliminary international examination of the patent application. During the examination, it is possible to modify and improve the application’s content, provided that no new patentable subject matter is added.
The applicant for an international patent must pursue the application in those states in which patent protection is sought, completing the actual filing of the international application in each of these states within 30 months of the filing date, or within the priority date of the application (if it exists).
In short, the PCT procedure enables the applicant to make a better estimate of the invention’s patent value, and make a selection of designated states before starting the national patent phase. The applicant may thus also improve the content of the application to be filed with individual states for examination, provided that no new patentable subject matter is added.
Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Monaco, and The Netherlands provide that a PCT application, from the time it is extended to a national application, is considered as a European Patent application designating the respective states.
There are no annual fees for maintenance of an international application.
Applicable International Agreements
The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the Paris Convention and the Agreement with the European Patent Office.