What is an international patent? What does PCT mean?

There is no such thing as a ‘global patent’ or ‘international patent’. Each country has its own patent legislation, which regulates the application and granting of patents in that country.

However, an international patent application does exist. This is an application according to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This Cooperation Treaty concerns the filing of so-called international patent applications. Under this treaty, a single patent application can be continued in a large number of countries. After a period of time (generally, 30 to 31 months after the first filing date), this single patent application needs to be split up into national or regional patent applications.

Thus, no patents are granted via the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In principle, an international patent application is an intermediate international phase. The advantage is that you have 30 to 31 months to decide in which countries you wish to continue the application, based on your commercial activities in the countries concerned.

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