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PCT Applications

What is the PCT?
PCT is short for the Patent Co-operation Treaty which came into effect in 1978. It is an agreement which provides for international co-operation and rationalisation with regard to filing, searching and examination of patent applications.


What is the scope of a PCT application?
Although a PCT application affords the applicant an opportunity to apply to expand its rights to all designated member countries by lodging a single PCT application, the PCT system does not provide for the granting of international patents. The granting of patents remains the responsibility of the Patent offices designated in the designated (selected) countries where protection is sought.


What is the procedure?
A PCT application must be submitted within 12 months from date of filing a South African provisional patent application. From date of filing of a PCT, the applicant is granted a further 18 months in which to refine/test his invention as well as find any additional funding necessary. Thereafter, actual filing in the countries designated must occur.

Once a PCT application is filed, formal examination commences. A patent novelty search and Written Opinion of the PCT Searching Authority issues (during this so-called “international phase” of the PCT. The international phase lasts until 30 or 31 months from the priority date of the patent application whereafter the onus is on the applicant to ensure suitable so-called “National Phase” patent applications are) filed in the countries selected. The application(s) are then examined further in each country, and if it is in compliance with all the formalities, it will be granted in the selected country.


Need further advice?
The above comments are general information. Please contact us if you require formal advice or possible patent registration.

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