International PCT Patent Filing Fees Reduced

Posted Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) includes procedures used by inventors who wish to seek patents in more than one country. The first step is the filing of an “international application,” which resembles a patent application one would file in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The international application is filed in “Receiving Offices” designated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to receive such applications (the USPTO is a Receiving Office), PCT application fees are paid, and the application is forwarded to WIPO offices in Geneva, Switzerland. The inventor or applicant later files the application in patent offices around the world, where the application receives consideration from a patent examiner.

Filing fees for an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty are more expensive than USPTO filing fees. For small firms or solo inventors, the fee discrepancy is in part because WIPO does not offer “small entity” or “micro entity” discounts (50% and 75% respectively off most filing fees) as the USPTO does. Even for the largest firms paying the USPTO the full rate for filing an application, PCT filing fees are still at least twice as expensive.

That aside, the USPTO also allows more pages and claims in an application than are permitted in a PCT application. An average-sized filed in the USPTO will be associated with surcharges for excess pages and claims if that application is filed as a PCT application instead.

So, as I have written here previously, the USPTO is a relative bargain compared to the cost of transacting patent business internationally. The good news today, though, is that most PCT fees are being reduced, effective January 1, 2015. The new fees are approximately 6% lower. The change is likely due to recent fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

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