What is an International PCT Patent Application?

traverselegal - March 23, 2015 - Patent

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) allows applicants to seek patent protection internationally for their inventions.  Since you cannot simply obtain a single patent that is effective in every country in the world, patent protection is typically secured through a local patent in that country, through regional patents, such as a European patent, or through an international PCT application.  By filing one international patent application under the PCT, you can simultaneously pursue protection for an invention in over 140 countries throughout the world.  Even though filing an international patent application under the PCT is a cheaper approach if you are seeking patent protection in many foreign countries, it is usually still more expensive than filing a national application directly in the U.S.

The international patent application will never become an international patent.  Instead, your international patent application will need to either enter the so-called “national stage” in the specific countries you want to receive a patent or you can file a different patent application in a specific country that claims the benefit of the your international patent application.  The PCT process is made up of two main phases: (1) international phase and (2) national phase.  The international phase begins with the filing of an international patent application, while the national phase begins when the international patent application entering into a particular country to be evaluated under that country’s patent laws.  The international patent applications typically become published after about 18 months from your earliest filing date.

When deciding whether to pursue foreign patent protection, you should determine whether you have a primary market and customers located in foreign countries.  Feel free to contact a Traverse Legal patent attorney to help guide you through the complex PCT process and advise you on whether filing an international patent application is right for your business goals.  If you are interested in filing international applications through the PCT, the patent attorneys at Traverse Legal can conduct searches on international patent applications and specifically analyze the results under PCT Rules and Regulations.

GET IN Touch

We’re here to field your questions and concerns. If you are a company able to pay a reasonable legal fee each month, please contact us today.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Enrico Schaefer, who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing Business, IP, and Technology Law litigation attorney.