PCT National Phase Filing: Essential Processes and FAQs

welocalize October 11, 2021

Acquiring patents for new inventions can be confusing. After all, the process involves many technical terms, provisions, and requirements. Moreover, the process per country can have some variations, and they must be done correctly to avoid issues for the patent applicants. 

To help you file for the national phase of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), we created this guide. We’ll talk about what the PCT is, the process for patent application and invention protection, the international phase, and some FAQs. 

What’s the Patent Cooperation Treaty? 

PCT is an international treaty involving over 150 contracting states. The PCT supports applicants in requesting international patent protection for their inventions simultaneously in several countries. 

It allows individuals to file only one international patent application rather than multiple, separate national or regional applications (among other functions). 

How You Can Protect Your Inventions Abroad 

Patents have territorial limitations. To secure your invention in several countries, you have two options: 

Direct or Paris Route 

Directly file different patent applications concurrently in all countries where you seek protection for your invention (regional patents can be available for some countries). 

If you’ve filed in a Paris Convention country, you can submit separate patent applications in other Paris Convention countries within 12 months from the first application’s filing date. Through this, you can benefit from claiming the first application’s filing date in all Paris Convention countries. 

PCT Route 

Apply for patent protection under the PCT directly or within the 12-month timeline given by the Paris Convention, beginning from the first application’s filing date. 

However, this provision has a legal effect on all PCT contracting states, as some contracting states are not bound by the Paris Convention. 

To assist with your PCT filing needs, Park IP provides guidance on the processes behind patent applications, invention protections, and essential FAQs Click To Tweet
Patent Application Process 

As an applicant, you should first pay the fees for acquiring national patents. If prescribed, you must furnish a translated copy of the documents. Then you must choose the language required for every designated office. The National Chapter of the PCT (Summary section) specifies the language needed for translation. 

You must also communicate a copy of the international application to a designated office (described under Article 20 of PCT) unless it doesn’t require it. 

Additionally, you must indicate the inventor’s name and address. An exception applies when these details aren’t in the request upon filing the international application. Another exemption is when the designated office permits indicating the information later than the national application’s filing date. 

International Phase Details 

The international phase starts with the PCT application filing and ends when it enters the national or regional phase. The international phase comprises a Chapter I phase, and if you file an optional demand, a Chapter II phase. 

The Chapter I phase includes the following steps: 

  • PCT application filing 
  • Preparation of the International Search Report (ISR) and the Written Opinion of the International Search Authority (WOISA) 
  • Optional filing of informal comments in reply to the WOISA 
  • Publication of the international patent application, including the ISR and other amended claims filed. If you don’t file a demand, the WOISA is reissued later as the International Preliminary Report of Patentability under Chapter I (IPRP/Chapter I). 

On the other hand, the optional Chapter II phase includes filing a demand, often with the subsequent IPRP/Chapter II preparation and amendments and/or arguments addressing any objection raised in the WOISA. 

3 PCT National Phase Filing FAQs 

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about filing for the national phase. 

1. What fees and when should I pay to enter the national phase? 

Each national chapter (in its summary and fees annex) outlines what applicants should pay for. These include initial filing fees and possibly annuities (or annual taxes) to maintain the patent.  

These payments must also be in the currencies and time limits specifically indicated in the resource.  

If the renewal or annual fees become due by the time the national phase begins, you must pay before the time limit for entering the national phase expires.  

Park IP prepared an analysis of over 100,000 English-language PCT applications, and the data suggests that patent application word counts differ significantly across technical fields. 

2. When is the national phase deadline? 

The national phase deadline is usually 30 or 31 months from the priority date. It’s the period when you should file your national stage application in each of your desired foreign countries. 

PCT member countries differ in their national phase time limits. They can receive either a 30-month or 31-month national phase deadline.  

3. When is the national stage deadline for non-member countries? 

Most developed countries are PCT members. If you’re seeking patent protection in non-member countries, such as Taiwan, note the foreign filing deadline, which is 12 months from the priority date. 

Find Trusted Partners to Support Your PCT National Phase Filing 

Organizing national patent applications can be intricate. If you’re new to this, seek assistance from qualified partners to satisfy the requirements and avoid costly mistakes. 

Park IP, a Welocalize company, offers expert foreign language solutions for various industries. We guarantee your patent documents’ accurate interpretation, regulatory compliance, and excellent quality. This is crucial when submitting your applications. 

Contact us anytime to learn about how we can help you with our high-quality translation and localization services.