Patent Cooperation Treaty (with regulations)

General Detail

General Information

  1. Type: Convention
  2. Date of signature:
  3. Place of signature: Washington D.C., USA
  4. Depositary:
  5. Date of entry into force: 24/01/1978


Intellectual property

Sub category




What is it about?

The Patent Cooperation Treaty allows for patent protection for an invention simultaneously in a large number of member countries by filing an “international” patent application. Such an application may be filed by anyone who is a national or resident of a contracting State. It may generally be filed with the national patent office of the contracting State of which the applicant is a national or resident or, at the applicant’s option, with the International Bureau of WIPO in Geneva. The Treaty regulates in detail the formal requirements with which any international application must comply. Among all the contracting States, the applicant indicates those in which he wishes his international application to have effect (“designated States”). The effect of the international application in each designated State is the same as if a national patent application had been filed with the national patent office of that State. The international application is then subjected to an international search, carried out by one of the major patent offices and results in an “international search report”, a listing of the citations of published documents that might affect the patentability of the invention claimed in the international application. The international search report is communicated to the applicant who may decide to withdraw his application, in particular where the content of the report suggests that the granting of patents is unlikely, or to amend the claims in the application. If the international application is not withdrawn, it is, together with the international search report, published by the International Bureau and communicated to each designated Office. If the applicant decides to continue with the international application with a view to obtaining national (or regional) patents, he can wait until the end of the 20th month from the priority date (that is, until the end of the 20th month after the filing of the international application or, where that application claims the priority of an earlier application, until the end of the 20th month after the filing of that earlier application), to commence the national procedure before each designated Office by furnishing a translation (where necessary) of the application into the official language of that Office and paying the necessary fees.

Why is it relevant?

Member States to the Treaty of Washington permit individuals and companies to more easily patent their inventions in other Member States. Individuals and companies benefit as well from gains in time and money, the phase of international filing being assured by the national filing office. The Treaty of Washington allows developing economies to benefit from information concerning patents already filed in foreign countries without having to engage in long and costly research.

Additional Information

The Treaty of Washington created the International Patent Cooperation Union, which is composed of an Assembly, an Executive Committee and the International Bureau of WIPO. The present Treaty has been modified several times since its adoption, on 18 September1979, on 3 February 1984 and on 3 October 2001. The ratification of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Intellectual Property is a prerequisite for becoming a party to the Washington Treaty.


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