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What is the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)?

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), that was signed in Washington on July 19, 1970 and came into force in 1978, is a special international agreement under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

As of March 1, 2010 142 States were the PCT Contracting Parties. The Republic of Belarus is a PCT Contracting Party from December 25, 1991.

The PCT Administration is executed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

What are the PCT idea and objectives?

The idea of international cooperation in filing and technical processing of applications for inventions, search and examination, as well as dissemination of technical information contained in applications with preservation of independence of national patent offices in provision of legal protection for inventions on the territory of the States is the basis of the PCT. The PCT does not provide for issuance of so-called “international patents”. The issuance of patents is the exclusive task and responsibility of patent offices of the States where protection is required.

The main aim of the PCT consists in avoidance by the national patent offices of duplication of processing applications for the same invention filed simultaneously in several countries, as well as in simplification and rise of efficiency for an applicant in obtaining protection for inventions in these countries.

Other main objectives of the PCT are to ensure the issuance of only strong patents by the patent offices of the PCT Contracting Parties, to facilitate and speed up the access to technical information relating to inventions for industry and other concerned sectors of the economy.

The functioning of the PCT System

Before the introduction of the PCT it was necessary to file separate applications with the patent offices of the patenting countries to obtain protection for an invention in several countries what entailed the expenses for translation and the services of patent attorneys in each country, as well as the payment of fees to the patent offices even before an applicant was convinced in patentability of the invention.

The PCT established an international system that allows to an applicant to file a single application (an “international application|, i.e. an application for an invention filed under the PCT and drawn up in accordance with the requirements of the PCT and the PCT Regulations) with one patent office (“Receiving Office” since it receives international applications) in one language. Relatively small (especially for individuals) international fees are paid herewith.

The procedure of patenting inventions under the PCT consists of two phases. It begins with the filing of an international application and in case of a favorable outcome for the applicant ends with the grant of a number of national and / or regional patents. Hence are the terms the “international phase” and the “national phase”.