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What is the Patent Cooperation Treaty?

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (the "PCT") is a treaty that provides for the filing of applications with a view to obtain patent protection in many countries. The established PCT system allows applicants to file a single patent application in one country and for up to 30 months retain the option of filing a corresponding application in a large number of other countries. It can therefore be thought of as a simplified procedure for an inventor or applicant to apply for and eventually to obtain a patent.
The advantages of filing patent applications via the PCT route are significant. The applicant can usually tell from the International Search Report and Written Opinion, what the chances are of obtaining patent protection in the countries of interest. If there appears to be no prospect of obtaining a patent in any country, the international application can be abandoned and the applicant loses only the cost of filing a PCT application instead of the much greater cost of filing applications in every country of interest. In addition, the applicant gets 18 months more than if ordinary applications were filed to test the market and/or the product to determine whether or not to proceed with patent applications and in which countries; and/or indeed to raise capital to fund the filing of national phase applications.

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