The United States Patent and Trademark Office is the arbiter of all things related to patent protection and laws for citizens of the country. Anyone who wishes to file for patent registration in foreign countries must do so with each specific government and follow each office’s regulations. However, there is a way the people can get comprehensive patent application assistance for jurisdictions around the globe, and it has a long history of use – more than a century, in fact. Let’s take a look at the Patent Cooperation Treaty of 1883 and how it works for us today.
In 1883, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property created one of the first treaties to establish rules governing the protection of intellectual property. It created a union of 11 countries that were party to the convention and offered the same rights to citizens of all the nations represented. The convention has been amended several times since its creation, but its provisions still stand today. By now, 148 countries have been added to the treaty, making it one of the most widely accepted agreements around the globe. It is administered in Geneva, Switzerland by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
Under Patent Cooperation Treaty, anyone who wants to seek patent registration in the contracting countries can file a single application, called an international application. The submission of this application will result in an international search, which will look for facts that affect the patentability of the invention listed on the application. The International Searching Authority checks all records and creates a report and written opinion about the likelihood of a patent being awarded.
Depending what the ISA discovers, the applicant can withdraw the application or continue to seek the patent. The patent application also is published at the WIPO headquarters, and anyone who has observations about the novelty of the invention can file them without a fee.
If the applicant decides to move forward with the process, he or she still has to apply for a patent with each country’s patent office. There is no such thing as an “international patent,” so individual nations still must grant their own patent certificates. However, with the ISA’s report and written opinion in hand, the process for patent applications in each jurisdiction are far smoother.
Patent Types and Statistics
The PCT is very clear about the fact that it does not limit the type of inventions for which people may apply for patents. The ISA doesn’t wish to exclude anyone from seeking a patent, though there are a few fields that are more difficult. It generally won’t do a search on math equations, business methods or computer technology, as it is not equipped to make decisions about those types of innovations.
Now, more than 130 years after the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property created its landmark treaty, it continues to garner a lot of international interest. The millionth international application was filed in 2004, and since then, action has ramped up. The two-million-application mark only took seven more years to reach, which happened in 2011. At this point, there are hundreds of thousands of PCT applications filed each year, with digital communications and electronics being among the top categories.
The 11 countries involved in the initial Paris Convention took a major step forward toward the protection of inventions across the globe. For more than a century, the provisions that group established have expanded and changed, but the basic goal of the treaty remains the same to this day. The WIPO’s system for international applications has smoothed the path for thousands of inventors to seek protection for their innovative ideas, no matter which country they call home.Legal Disclaimer
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