One of the common decisions startups and entrepreneurs have to make is whether or not to file a PCT application.
To put this question in context, it’s important to understand what a PCT Application is and what a PCT Application is not.
A PCT Application is a type of non-provisional patent application that can secure your priority date in most countries. Anytime you file a patent application you are entering a world-wide race to the patent office. There is no prize for second place. You can win most of the entire international competition by filing one PCT Application to secure your priority date in 153 countries around the world. This makes the PCT Application the ultimate innovation place holder.
Now let’s talk about what a PCT Application is not. A PCT Application is not a patent application that – by itself – will ever become a patent in any country. Instead, a PCT Application is a non-confidential, international placeholder application that can serve to secure your priority date for up to 30 months in most countries.
PCT Patent Application = Published + Placeholder + Holds for up to 2.5 years.
For example, you can file one PCT application to protect an invention and then wait 30 months before deciding and paying to file a patent application in multiple countries, such as Germany, Japan, South Korea, and China.
You might wonder: why file a PCT Application at all if it will not result in a patent by itself? Why not just file patent applications in each country you want protection in?
Because it’s really expensive to file patent applications in many countries at the same time. I often tell startups and entrepreneurs that they should estimate that it will cost roughly about $8,000 to file a patent application in each country. For example, filing a patent application in Germany, Japan, South Korea, and China could easily cost $32,000. AND that’s just the start of the patent application process in each of these countries. You still have to pay additional fees during examination to get your application allowed in each country. This is more money than most startups and entrepreneurs have to spend on patents when they are first starting out.
Thanks to the PCT Application, you don’t have to. Just file one PCT Application and you can put off the decisions and costs for up to 2.5 years.
So, to answer the question of whether the PCT Application makes sense for you, I suggest asking yourself the following questions.
First, do you plan on protecting your invention in multiple countries? If you’re just going to apply for a patent in one country, you would do well to just file a non-provisional patent application in that country. The PCT Application is most advantageous when trying to protect your invention in several countries.
The second question: if you plan to file in multiple countries, then do you have the money now? If no, then a PCT Application should make sense for your business because it provides you with up to 30 months to file patent applications in each country that you want protection in.
Still not sure if a PCT Application is for you?
Call Childs Patent Law at 832-621-0353 and let’s see if a PCT Application makes sense for your business.