The PCT national phase is the obligatory path that patent holders must follow if they are interested having their patent granted in one or more states of the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty).
This phase, combined with an international preliminary phase, constitutes the typical PCT procedure for filing an international patent application (“PCT application”).
The objective is to protect the same patent in all the states of the Treaty, without the need to file a single national patent application in each country.

The PCT application

For the purposes of filing, the international patent application should include:
  • The applicant's data as the patent holder

  • The patent title

  • The name of the inventor

  • The countries to which the patent is to be extended

  • A description with the related claims and technical drawings.

The PCT procedure is structured in two phases: international and national (or regional).

International phase

Unlike the European patent, an international patent is not granted with the PCT application, but the applicant is granted the relative patent in the individual countries.

Managed by the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), the international phase, qualified as a unitary procedure, is the preliminary phase in which the international patent application is filed, at the WIPO itself or at the UIBM or EPO.

International search report

Once the application has been filed, a prior art search is carried out with which an initial assessment is provided on:
  • The presence of prior art documents useful for assessing the degree of novelty and originality of the technical solution covered by the patent application;

  • The actual scope of the exclusive right to be granted.

At the end of the search, an International search report is issued, which is also accompanied by a written Opinion on the patentability of the application.

With this opinion, depending on the documents cited in the search report, the holder may:
  • Acquire the necessary instruments to evaluate granting the patent in select countries among those included in the application;

  • If necessary, modify the claims of the patent application.

However, the Search is not binding in order to continue the procedure in the national phase.
Then, within 18 months of filing, the PCT application is published along with the Search Report, and the applicant has the right to decide whether to enter the national phase.

National (or regional) phase

At the end of a 30-month period from the filing (or priority) date, the national phase begins (e.g., in countries such as Spain, France, Brazil, China, Japan, USA, etc., or regional, e.g., EP regional phase), in which the holder can decide in which countries to have the patent granted.
Consequently, following the national PCT procedure, the necessary activities are started in each designated country, in accordance with the relevant national legislation and with the support of local consultants with expertise in the field.
In order to have the patent granted, the applicant:
  • Pays the required filing fees according to the criteria of each country;

  • Produces the relevant translations of the patent application in the official language of the designated country, if different from the language of the PCT application.

Why choose the PCT procedure?

Because it allows to file a single international patent application with a single prior art search at a lower cost, in order to:
  • Have all the necessary time (30 months) to evaluate which countries are best for ensuring the relative granting, also postponing the related translation costs;

  • Obtain a legitimate filing with the value of a national application in each of the designated countries.