Patent Cooperation Treaty

What is the Patent Cooperation Treaty?

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international intellectual property treaty with over 150 contracting states. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the PCT makes it possible to apply for patent protection in a large number of countries by using a single “international” patent application. In contrast to filing several national or regional patent applications one by one, this saves time, money, and effort.

Although the PCT allows one to simultaneously apply for a patent in several countries at once, the granting of patents themselves remains under the discretion of the specific national or regional patent office.

Key Takeaways

  • The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international intellectual property treaty with over 150 contracting states.
  • This agreement allows one to apply for patent protection in several countries at the same time, using a single application.
  • National and regional patent offices are still in charge of granting the patents themselves.

More on the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

When you apply for a federal patent through the USPTO, your invention or creation will receive protection in the United States only. If you are looking to obtain international protection, you will need to file additional patent applications. Fortunately, you can save time and avoid the hassle by using the Patent Cooperation Treaty to your advantage. It offers a streamlined patent application process by offering the possibility to apply for multiple patents in different countries at the same time.

Even today, new countries are continually being added to this revolutionary multi-national contract dating back to 1970.

Contracting States in the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

As of August 2022, the Patent Cooperation Treaty has 156 contracting nations or states. A majority of these states have close ties with the United States, allowing citizens to apply for patents in these countries simultaneously with those in the United States. Alongside the United States, among the countries listed on the treaty include:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • China
  • Germany 
  • France
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • South Africa

For a full list of the contracting countries, please refer to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website.

Bottom Line

The Patent Cooperation Treaty provides several advantages to patent applicants, especially for those interested in making or selling their product or service in other countries. However, this specific type of patent agreement is not suitable for everyone. First of all, you may discover that your invention or creation is not patentable outside of the United States. Moreover, there is limited patent coverage under this treaty. Applications filed under the PCT generally apply to utility patents only. Design patents as well as trademarks and copyrights cannot be filed under the PCT.

If you need assistance in filling an application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty or you need advice on whether this type of application is right for you, you are not alone. Our experienced intellectual property attorneys are here to help and provide personalized guidance throughout the entire patent application process.

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