PCT Consists of Two Phases

PCT allows use of common procedures throughout the world.  PCT sets out general procedures carried out during the first, international phase of the PCT.  Formalities, such as an international search, and (if desired) international preliminary examination occur in the international phase of the PCT process.  These formalities are providing the applicant with more time and are a good basis for deciding in which countries to proceed and the chances of success.

International Phase Consists of Four Steps

International phase consists of four basic steps, of which the first three occur automatically, and the last one is not mandatory:


The applicant submits an international application in a receiving office


An international search agency performs a search and issues an international search report and a written opinion on patentability.


WIPO publishes the international application along with the international search report and transmits the application to the patent offices of countries or regions selected by the applicant for further processing.

Preliminary Examination

The applicant must decide whether he wants to send a request for a preliminary international examination no later than three months from the date of the receipt of the international search report (or a declaration that the report will not be available) or 22 months from the priority date.  In any event, with the exception of three countries, the request must be filed within 30 months of the priority date.  The request for an international preliminary examination leads to preparation of the international preliminary examination of the patentability of the invention.  The preliminary report examines aspects of the patentability of inventions in general.

National Phase

Upon completion of the international phase, the applicant must pay the fee specified by the country or the region where he wants to obtain patents and appoint, where necessary, a representative (patent attorney).  Entering the national phase of PCT must be done by a certain date.  In those countries or regions where the applicant does not enter the national phase within the deadline, the international application is terminated.


The applicant must enter the national phase no later than 30 months of the priority date, even if a request for a preliminary examination was not previously filed.  The document containing deadlines for submission in each country and region can be found on the WIPO website.

Despite the fact that the treaty mandates the minimum term, different countries may have longer time frames stipulated in the national laws.  Therefore, it is very easy, even for experienced people, to make a mistake.  Be very careful and do not forget to consult a local patent lawyer.