PCT International patent

What is an “international patent”

A PCT patent is often referred to as an “international patent’. However, this is somewhat of a misnomer, as a PCT patent does not become a “patent”.

The PCT patent is a step in a patenting process.

The patent process

Typically, the patenting process includes the following steps:

  • Patent search – to determine whether you have a “novel” feature that can be patented.
  • Provisional patent application – this does not become a “patent“. It merely reserves your right for 12 months to file a “complete patent” in nearly all countries of the world. You can file your own provisional patent online through either GlobalIPCo for $199 or Iptica for $99. See our easy provisional patent drafting and filing guide.
  • PCT / international patent – this merely extends your “reservation” to extend your patent to 152 countries from 12 months to 30 months. If you do nothing else after filing the PCT / international patent, your “potential” patent rights in these 152 countries will expire.
  • file a “national phase” patent in each country you wish to obtain patent rights. After filing, most national phase patents are subject to examination by the local patent office. If accepted by a country’s patent examiner, that national phase patent will be granted. You will then have a “patent“. Cost: approx. R35,000 per country to file, approx. R30,000 to R80,000 to prosecute to grant. A South African national phase patent costs only US$585 and does not incur any prosecution or grant costs. The most affordable South African national phase patent filing ($399) is offered by GlobalIPCo (for whom we are the exclusive South African agent).
  • Patent renewal – typically patent annuities are payable annually to maintain the patent in force. Cost: See our patent renewal tool.

Why file a PCT / international patent?

By filing a PCT patent, you extend the deadline for filing national phase patents from 12 months to 30 months from the filing date of the provisional patent. Since national phase patent filing and prosecution costs constitute the majority of your patent costs, this delay in itself justifies the PCT/ international patent filing.

In addition,Ā about 4 months after filing the PCT / international patent, you will receive a patent search and examination report issued by a recognised patent office. This will help you to decide whether to incur additional national phase patentĀ costs. Also, potential investors / licensees will be very interested in the content of these reports.

Reducing the cost of your PCT / international patent

Some PCT search offices offer rebates to individuals in select countries (including South Africa). For instance:

the cost of a PCT patent in the name of a South African resident and national “individual” that cites the Austrian Patent Office as the search authority

is less than half:

the cost of a PCT patent in the name of a South African registered “company“.

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