An International Patent Application (PCT) is valid in international territories adhering to the Patent Cooperation Treaty, which are currently 152. The list of countries is available from the competent Office website (WIPO) at the following link.
International Patent Application Procedure
The PCT application allows, with a single application, to have a protection in many countries of the world, for a limited period of time that lasts (with exceptions) 30 or 31 months from the date of filing/priority. Moreover, during this period, no particular actions are requested to the owner in order to maintain its rights alive, which can therefore be kept alive in those territories until the end of the abovementioned period. At the end of the 30th or 31st month, the owner must choose in which territories he or she intends to continue the patenting procedure in order to get the final grant. Once the choice has been made, the patent application enters into the various national stages (e.g. in U.S.A., China etc.) or regional phases (for example EPO), where the process of granting begins, in accordance with local procedures, timing and laws.
Among the benefits relating to a PCT filing, it should be mentioned the possibility of having a relatively long period of time (30 or 31 months) in which it is possible to develop business relating to the invention claimed in order to choose, at the end of this period, in which countries it is worth undertaking the corresponding national phase procedures and then try to get the patent granted. In addition, during the 30 or 31 months, the EPO, as an international searching authority, issues a search report, useful to get a first feedback on the patentability of the claims of the PCT application. In addition, the holder can require a substantial international preliminary examination report, which, in case of a favorable outcome, may be useful to accelerate the subsequent national phases.