International (PCT) patent application
The filing of an International Patent Application (“PCT application”) is generally recommended. The PCT application is filed before filing patent applications in each jurisdiction or country that you wish to obtain a patent. The PCT can be the first filed application for an invention, but more usually, a PCT application is prepared and filed by the anniversary of a provisional patent filing because this approach defers costs, provides time to develop product concepts, and generally provides more flexibility.
An International Searching Authority considers the PCT application and issues a search report and written opinion stating their view on the patentability of the invention. We recommend that an optional Preliminary International Examination of the PCT application be requested, which provides an opportunity to respond to the written opinion and obtain a clear examination report. The outcome of the examination provides useful information on the approximate prospects of national applications. A clear examination report, while not binding, may persuade a national patent office to grant a patent, and is consequently worth while pursuing.
The PCT application defers filing of national applications and the associated costs – which can be significant – by 18 months. For some companies, particularly start up companies, this time can be used to continue to develop products, test the market, and obtain funds for the later more expensive stages of the patent application process.