What benefits flow from a PCT application?
For an applicant who has filed a patent application in a particular country, a PCT application offers a way to postpone having to make decisions about filing patent applications in other countries. If there were no such thing as the Patent Cooperation Treaty, then the only opportunity to postpone making decisions about foreign filing would be the opportunity provided by the Paris Convention. Under the Paris Convention, someone who files an application in one country is forced to make a decision, within one year, as to whether to file patent applications in other countries which would claim priority from the first application. A PCT application offers a way to extend the time during which a decision must be made about foreign patent filings, for a longer period than the decision- postponement period provided by the Paris Convention. By filing a PCT application, the applicant can postpone for 20 months (rather than 12 months under the Paris Convention) the decision about whether or to spend the money for foreign patent filings. In addition, assuming that the first application was filed in a country that has adhered to Chapter II of the Patent Cooperation Treaty, it is possible to perform a step called “demanding preliminary examination” which permits postponing the decision about foreign filing (in many countries) until 30 months after the priority date.
The PCT process is helpful to those who don’t have enough money to file in several countries, but who expect to have enough money at a later time. A PCT application provides a convenient way to keep the options open for foreign filing for up to thirty months.