Does an international PCT patent application cover the whole world?
No, a PCT application does not cover every country. Here is a list of non-member countries. Depending upon your foreign patent goals, there is a good probability that the member PCT countries are sufficient for you.
Which PCT countries make sense for you?
As you might expect, the countries having the largest foreign markets are members of the PCT.
In Asia, member countries include China, Japan and S. Korea. Taiwan, however, is not a member.
For countries known for manufacturing, members include India, Indonesia, Phillipines, Thailand, Vietnam and more.
To cover Europe, you can file a PCT application and then file a national stage application with the European Patent Office (EPO). Note that you do not need to file individual national stage applications in each desired European country. A single national stage application filed with the EPO would cover all EPO member countries, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands and more.
Here is a list of member states.
PCT as another US option?
For US applicants, you might not think of the PCT as a way to keep the door open to filing another US patent application. Yet, you certainly can. In fact, you can use the PCT application as a strategy for discovering the relevant prior art sooner and then amending your US claims accordingly.
Should you file a PCT application?
In a nutshell, a PCT application does at least two things. First, it buys time. When you file a PCT application, the deadline to file in foreign countries gets extended from 12 months to 30 months from the priority date. So the PCT buys you 18 months of additional time. Deferring foreign patent costs by one and a half years can be critical.
Second, a PCT application leaves options open. Initially, you might not know which foreign markets would have the most potential. Suppose you found out later that it would really make sense to be patent-pending in certain Asian and European countries. Without the PCT, the deadline to make that decision would have passed at the 1-year anniversary of your priority date. By filing a PCT application, you still have time to enter those foreign markets. The PCT keeps the door open to foreign markets for a longer period of time.
Need help in getting patent protection in foreign PCT countries?
We work with foreign associates in all major international markets. Contact patent attorney Vic Lin by email or call (949) 223-9623 to find out how we can help you obtain patent protection in the countries that make the most sense for your invention.
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