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International patent application (PCT procedure)

A worldwide patent does not yet exist. A patent must be applied for and granted for each separate country.

Fortunately, the process resulting in international patent protection can be started with one action, i.e. the international patent applicationor PCT application.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) stipulates that the procedure for an international patent can be started via one application, referred to as the PCT application. The PCT application is filed via the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and has the same effect as the filing of an application in all of the separate countries which recognise the PCT application. PCT applications are handled by the European Patent Office on behalf of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The PCT patent application is a first step towards obtaining a patent in the countries in which you actively wish to protect your invention. An international novelty search is carried out when the application is filed. For Dutch applicants, this is carried out by the European Patent Office. However, the PCT patent application does not provide a granted patent. To obtain this, you will still have to initiate a separate application procedure for each country (unless a joint patent procedure applies, such as for the European market).

Deferment: After filing the PCT application, you will have up to 30 months as from the start of the procedure to decide in which of the PCT member states you wish to proceed with the application. You will then often have a better idea of the commercial value of the invention or the potential markets than at the end of the priority year.

Countries: Not all countries are members of the PCT Treaty. There are currently more than 130 PCT member states and this number is still rising. For non-affiliated countries, you will have to file national applications directly at the end of the priority year.

Global partner network: In virtually all countries, the application must be filed by a local patent attorney. This only needs to be done on completion of the PCT procedure. To do this, Arnold + Siedsma can call upon its global partner network.

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