Electronic Submission to PCT at the Patent Office
A PCT request provides inventors with an international priority date, in accordance with the Treaty and in principle, a PCT request is valid for two and a half years in some of the countries in which it is possible to request a priority date.
A priority date is the first date on which an inventor who has submitted a request to a Patent Office can rely, in a request submitted, for instance, in Israel or the USA. However, it is important to realize that the two and a half years is from the date of the first request and not from the date on which the PCT request was submitted. In other words, if a person submits a request for patent in Israel, that person has a period of one year to submit the PCT request and at the end of that year, there remains only one and a half years until the end of the PCT period, during which that person must submit requests for patent in those countries where the inventor seeks patent protection.
Therefore, the exact date for submission and cash flows must be considered carefully and the entrepreneur’s short term and long term objectives must be well thought out in order to decide at what point in time it is right for that entrepreneur and inventor to submit the PCT request and thereby, avoid missing the target date.
That is also why it is worthwhile consulting a patent lawyer, who will be able to construct the proper strategy for the project that must be protected. Another consideration in this process is the decision regarding the target countries in which the inventor wants patent protection and based on that decision, it shall be possible to request the execution of a PCT examination by an American or a European examiner.
The Patent Office has published an announcement regarding electronic submission and the new computing system in the PCT Department, which provides more details. It is important to note that this is not yet an online system for submission of requests. Even so, the Patent Office has announced that the system contains a component, which will enable online submission. At sometime in the future, the Patent Office will announce the beginning of that component’s operation.
Under all circumstances, in light of the complexity of this issue, it is worthwhile consulting a patent lawyer.