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Ken Targett

Hampshire, United Kingdom




British Patents
Foreign patents
European patents
International patents

International patent applications

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) enables a single international application to be filed covering about a hundred countries around the world. 

In the case of a British applicant, the international application is searched, fairly quickly, by the European Patent Office (EPO), is published by the International Bureau about eighteen months after the earliest claimed priority date and then optionally enters a second phase in which it is examined, fairly quickly, by the EPO. Then, 30 or 31 months after the earliest claimed priority date, it is necessary to divide up the application into national or regional applications for the countries/regions which are still of interest. If a large number, the costs at this stage are considerable. The international application does not, therefore, result in an international patent, and should be considered mainly as a way of extending the twelve month option for filing foreign applications to 30 or 31 months..

During the subsequent national/regional phases, many patent offices do not rely solely on the results of the international search and pay little attention to the outcome of the international examination. However, if the EPO conducted the international search and examination, and if a positive examination report is issued, then in the subsequent European regional phase a patent is likely to be granted without difficulty and usually far more quickly than if a European application had been filed directly.