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What is the national phase ?

The national phase is the second of the two main phases of the PCT procedure. It follows the international phase and consists in the processing of the international application before each Office of or acting for a Contracting State that has been designated in the international application. In each designated State the international application has the effect of a national (or regional) application as from the international filing date, and the decision to grant protection for the invention is the task of the Office of or acting for that State (the “designated Office”). The national phase of processing the international application by the designated Office is generally delayed until the termination of the international phase on the expiration of the time limits indicated.

When is an Office a designated Office ?

The national Office of a Contracting State is a “designated Office” if the State is “designated” in the international application for national protection. The filing of a request constitutes the designation of all Contracting States that are bound by the Treaty on the international filing date. However, some States may be excluded from this all-inclusive designation where they have notified the International Bureau that Rule 4.9(b) applies to them (see wipo site for more information). Where a PCT Contracting State is party to the ARIPO Harare Protocol, the Eurasian Patent Convention or the European Patent Convention and is designated for a regional (ARIPO, Eurasian or European) patent, the regional Office concerned (the ARIPO Office, the Eurasian Patent Office or the European Patent Office) is the designated Office. Where a State party to the ARIPO Harare Protocol, the Eurasian Patent Convention or the European Patent Convention is designated twice, namely both for national protection and for a regional patent, there are two designated Offices for that State-the national Office of the State itself and the regional Office concerned. However, certain States party to the ARIPO Harare Protocol or the European Patent Convention have “closed the national route” whereby patent protection can be obtained in those countries via an international application only by way of a designation for a regional (ARIPO or European) patent. If any of the States that have “closed the national route” are designated, the designated Office concerned is always the ARIPO Office or the European Patent Office, respectively. The European Patent Office is also, in effect, the designated Office where patent protection is desired for a designated State through the extension of a European patent to that State, a possibility which is only available for countries which have a corresponding agreement with the European Patent Organization (see Annex B(EP) and the National Chapter (Summary) relating to the European Patent Office). Where States parties to the OAPI Agreement are designated, the OAPI Office, by virtue of the provisions of that Agreement, is always the designated Office. The competent designated Office(s) for each Contracting State is (are) set out in Annexes B.
Where the applicant, before the expiration of the time limit for entering the national phase, voluntarily withdraws a designation, the Office of or acting for the State whose designation is withdrawn ceases to be a designated Office.

When is an Office an elected Office ?

Where a demand for international preliminary examination is filed, the term “elected Office” is used-instead of the term “designated Office”- to denote the Office of or acting for a State in which the applicant intends to use the results of the international preliminary examination. Since only designated States can be elected, all elected Offices are necessarily also designated Offices.
Where the demand is withdrawn prior to the date on which examination or processing may start in the national phase, or where the applicant fails to pay the preliminary examination fee or the handling fee and, consequently, the demand is considered as if it had not been submitted, the Office of or acting for the State which has been elected in the demand ceases to be an elected Office.

How does the national phase start ?

The national phase starts only if the applicant performs certain acts, either before the expiration of a certain time limit or together with an express request that it start earlier. The applicant should not expect any notification inviting him to perform those acts. He has sole responsibility for performing them in due time. The consequences of failure to do so are fatal to the application in a number of designated States (see paragraphs 4.003 and 4.004). It should be noted that the acts must be performed in due time even if, for some reason, the international search report and the written opinion of the International Searching Authority or the international preliminary report on patentability (Chapter I or II of the PCT) are not yet available. Details of the acts to be performed and the applicable time limits are given in the following paragraphs.

What is the time limit for entering the national phase before a designated Office ?

Subject to what is said below, no designated Office may normally process or examine the international application prior to the expiration of 30 months from the priority date and any fees due to a designated Office and any translation of the international application to be furnished to a designated Office will have to be paid and furnished, respectively, only by the expiration of that 30-month period (“priority date” means, where the international application contains a priority claim, the filing date of the application whose priority is claimed, and, where it does not contain such a claim, the filing date of the international application. Where the international application contains two or more claims, “priority date” means the filing date of the earliest application whose priority is claimed). In respect of certain designated Offices, the applicable time limit is 20 months, not 30 months because of the incompatibility, for the time being, of the modified PCT provision (PCT Article 22(1)) with the relevant national law; those Offices made a declaration of incompatibility which will remain in effect until it is withdrawn withdrawn by the respective Offices. Furthermore, certain designated Offices have fixed time limits expiring even later than 30 months, or 20 months, as the case may be. For regular updates on these applicable time limits, refer to the relevant National Chapters; a cumulative table is also available from WIPO’s website at www.wipo.int/pct/en/texts/time_limits.html.

What is the time limit for entering the national phase before an elected Office ?

If the applicant files a demand for international preliminary examination prior to the expiration of 22 months (or 19 months in respect of certain Offices that have made a declaration of incompatibility with the modified PCT provision (PCT Article 22(1)) from the priority date, the time limit before the expiration of which the applicant must enter the national phase by performing the prescribed acts indicated below is governed for the elected Offices by Article 39(1). The time limit is normally 30 months from the priority date, the same time limit for entering the national phase as that which applies in the case of a designated Office which has not been elected (see paragraph 3.001). The national law applied by each elected Office may fix a time limit which expires later than 30 months from the priority date. The National Chapter (Summary) relating to each elected Office in respect of which an extended time limit applies indicates the length of that time limit as does the table referred to in paragraph 3.001.

Can the national phase start before the expiration of the time limit for entering it ?

The PCT provides, in Articles 23 and 40, that national processing may not start before the expiration of the time limits indicated in paragraphs 3.001 and 3.002 unless the applicant makes an express request to the Office concerned that it start the processing and the examination of the international application earlier. Such a request is not effective, however, unless the applicant has performed the prescribed acts indicated in the following paragraphs. The attention of applicants is drawn to the information in paragraph 4.028.

What must be done by the applicant before the start of the national phase ?

The following acts must be performed (if applicable): (i) Payment of the national (ii) Furnishing of a translation, if prescribed (iii) In exceptional cases (if a copy of the international application has not been communicated to the designated Office under Article 20), furnishing of a copy of the international application, except where not required by that Office. (iv) In exceptional cases (if the name and address of the inventor were not given in the request when the international application was filed, but the designated Office allows them to be given at a time later than that of the filing of a national application), furnishing of the indication of the name and address of the inventor (see paragraphs 4.030 and 4.031). There may be acts in addition to those described in paragraph 4.001 which must be performed for the international application to proceed in the national phase, but none of those acts, which are described further below and in the National Chapter relating to each designated Office, has to be performed within the time limit for entering the national phase.

What are the consequences of failure to perform the acts required for entry into the national phase ?

The consequences where, on expiration of the applicable time limit for entering the national phase, the required acts have not (all) been performed, are that the international application loses the effect of a national application and the procedure comes to an end in respect of each Office before which they have not (all) been performed. Non-performance of the required acts in respect of one Office does not alter the effect of the international application before the other Offices. The automatic loss of the effect relieves the applicant, where he decides not to pursue the international application in the national phase, of the need to expressly withdraw the international application or the designation or election of a certain State. Where the applicant fails to perform the required acts in time, he may ask the designated Office to maintain the effect of the international application and to excuse the delay

What fees must be paid for entry into the national phase and when ?

The fees to be paid for entry into the national phase are indicated in each National Chapter (Summary and fees annex). They must be paid in the currencies and within the time limits that are also indicated there. If annual or renewal fees have become due by the time the national phase could start, they must be paid before the expiration of the time limit applicable for entering the national phase. The National Chapters set out this information.

In which case must the international application be translated ?

A translation of the international application must be furnished if the language in which it was filed or published is not a language accepted by the designated Office.

What is the language into which the international application must be translated ?

The language or languages prescribed by the designated Offices are given in the National Chapter (Summary) relating to each Office. Where several languages are given, the applicant may choose the language which suits him best. It should be noted that the language in which the translation of the international application is furnished is usually also the language for the whole procedure before the designated Office.

Does the abstract require translation ?

Normally the abstract must also be translated, but some Offices do not require a translation for the national phase. The National Chapter (Summary) relating to each Office which requires that the abstract be translated contains an indication to that effect.

Which are the claims that must be translated where the claims have been amended under Article 19 ?

The designated Offices have the right to require a translation of the claims both as originally filed and as amended under Article 19. Each National Chapter (Summary) contains information on the applicable requirements. As to translations of the claims as amended under Article 19 in a case where the international application has been the subject of international preliminary examination, see paragraph 4.019. Where a designated Office requires a translation of both the claims as filed and of the claims as amended under Article 19, but the applicant furnishes only one of the required two translations, the designated Office either disregards the claims of which a translation has not been furnished or invites the applicant to furnish the missing translation within a time limit which must be reasonable in the circumstances. If such an invitation is issued but the missing translation has still not been furnished within that time limit, the designated Office may either disregard the claims whose translation is missing or consider the international application withdrawn. The procedures outlined in paragraph 4.015 do not apply in all designated Offices. The various National Chapters (Summary) indicate, for each designated Office which requires a translation of both the claims as filed and of the claims as amended under Article 19, whether an invitation is issued where both translations are not filed and what the consequences are if the missing claims are not furnished in response to such an invitation.

Must any statement explaining amendments made to the claims under Article 19 be translated ?

This statement must be translated only where required by the designated Office. Failure to furnish a translation of the explanatory statement has no effect on the international application itself; it can only result in the statement being disregarded by the designated Office.

Must a reference to deposited biological material be translated ?

Where such a reference is contained in the description, its translation is part of the translation of the description. Where the reference is not contained in the description but has been furnished on the optional sheet or in a later communication, a translation must be furnished together with the translation of the international application. Where the applicant fails to furnish the translation of the reference, the designated Office may invite him to do so if it deems necessary.

What must be translated where the international application has been the subject of international preliminary examination ?

Amendments to the description, claims or drawings under Article 34 that have been filed with the International Preliminary Examining Authority and have been taken into account for the establishment of the international preliminary report on patentability (Chapter II of the PCT) will be annexed to that report. Any amendments under Article 19 as well as replacement sheets containing rectifications of obvious mistakes authorized under Rule 91.1(b)(iii), will similarly be annexed to the report if they have been taken into account (that is, they will in general not be annexed to the report if they have been superseded by later amendments or considered as reversed by an amendment under Article 34. However, exceptionally where the International Preliminary Examining Authority considers that a superseding or reversing amendment goes beyond the disclosure in the international application as filed, the replacement sheet superseded or reversed by the most recent superseding or reversing amendment will nevertheless be annexed to the report, and the report will contain an indication of this as referred to in Rule 70.2(c)). A translation of the amendments annexed to the report must be furnished together with the translation of the international application within the applicable time limit under Article 39(1). If there have been any amendments under Article 19 which are not annexed to the international preliminary report on patentability (Chapter II of the PCT), a translation of those amendments need not be furnished to most elected Offices. A few elected Offices do, however, require translations of amendments under Article 19 even if they are not annexed to the international preliminary report on patentability (Chapter II of the PCT)-see the various National Chapters (Summary) for details.

Does the translation have to contain drawings ?

No applicant is required to furnish original drawings to the designated Offices together with the translation of the international application. Offices may require only the furnishing of a copy of the original drawing(s), and few actually do so. The National Chapter (Summary) relating to each designated Office indicates this information. If the copy of the drawings is not furnished within the time limit for entering the national phase, the international application does not lose its effect, but the designated Office invites the applicant to furnish the missing copy.

How must the translation of text matter in drawings be presented ?

Where a drawing, a table or the like contains text matter, that text matter must be translated. There are two methods that may be used for the physical presentation of the translated text matter. One is to furnish new sheets of drawings, tables, etc., containing the translated text matter. The other is to paste the translation over the original text matter and to furnish a copy of that sheet. The latter method, however, requires the copy to be of good quality and fit for reproduction by the designated Office. If it is not, the designated Office may invite the applicant to correct the defect. The expression “Fig.” which is frequently used in drawings does not require translation into any language. If the translation of the text matter of the drawings is not furnished within the time limit for entering the national phase, the international application may lose the effect of a national application.

Must the translation be certified ?

The translation of the international application furnished for entry into the national phase does not need to be certified by a public authority or a sworn translator. However, if later the designated Office reasonably doubts the accuracy of the translation, it may require the applicant to furnish a certification of the translation.

Must the translation be verified ?

Verification of a translation means that the translation must be accompanied by a statement signed by the applicant or by the translator, to the effect that, to the best of his knowledge, the translation is complete and faithful. There are only a few designated Offices that require verification. For each such Office, the National Chapter (Summary) contains an indication to that effect and gives further details including forms).

Must a copy of the international application be furnished by the applicant to the designated Office for entry into the national phase ?

Under normal circumstances, none of the designated Offices requires a copy of the international application to be submitted by the applicant. There are only a few that do require a copy where the communication by the International Bureau of a copy of the international application under Article 20 has not, or could not yet have, taken place (for details, see the National Chapters (Summary)). That communication is effected by the International Bureau in accordance with Rule 93bis.1 but not prior to the international publication of the international application. The applicant is notified accordingly by means of Form PCT/IB/308 (First notice informing the applicant of the communication of the international application (to designated Offices which do not apply the 30 month time limit under Article 22(1)), and Form PCT/IB/308 (Second and supplementary notice informing the applicant of the communication of the international application (to designated Offices which apply the 30 month time limit under Article 22(1)). When the applicant receives these Forms, he does not have to furnish a copy of the international application to any of the designated Offices, since the notices are accepted by all of them as conclusive evidence that the communication has duly taken place on the date specified in the notice. On the other hand, where the applicant makes an express request for early processing of the international application (see paragraphs 2.006 and 3.004) before the communication of the international application has taken place, he must either furnish a copy of the international application, and of any amendment filed under Article 19 with the International Bureau, at the same time as he makes the express request for early processing to the designated Office or request the International Bureau to transmit a copy of his international application to the designated Office in accordance with Article 13(2)(b). The other acts prescribed for entering the national phase must naturally also be complied with.

In which case must the name and address of the inventor be indicated for entry into the national phase ?

If the name or address of the inventor or inventors has not been indicated in the request at the time of filing, that information must be furnished to the designated Offices at the time of entry into the national phase. If such indications are required, most of the designated Offices will invite the applicant to furnish them if he fails to do so on entering the national phase, but some of them will not. Details are given in the National Chapters (Summary). The indication of the name and address of the inventor is to be distinguished from other declarations of or concerning the inventor or the invention, etc. The latter are considered “special requirements” (see paragraphs 5.001 to 5.005) which may be complied with after entry into the national phase.

What must be done to prove inventorship, the right to file the application or the like ?

Depending on national law and practice, some designated Offices require the applicant to furnish:

  • 1. any document relating to the identity of the inventor;
  • 2. any document relating to the applicant’s entitlement to apply for or be granted a patent;
  • 3. any document containing proof of the applicant’s entitlement to claim priority of an earlier application where the applicant is not the applicant who filed the earlier application or where the applicant’s name has changed since the date on which the earlier application was filed;
  • 4. any document containing an oath or declaration of inventor ship;
  • 5. any evidence concerning non-prejudicial disclosures or exceptions to lack of novelty, such as disclosures resulting from abuse, disclosures at certain exhibitions and disclosures by the applicant during a certain period of time.
However, in general, a document referred to above will not be required if the applicant has furnished a declaration under Rule 4.17 (see paragraph 5.005). What may be required by a particular designated Office is indicated in the National Chapters (Summary). The annexes to the National Chapters contain forms that must or may be used for this purpose. Documents (other than declarations under Rule 4.17) required by designated Offices, must always be sent by the applicant to the designated Office concerned and should not be sent to the International Bureau, which, if it does receive them, keeps them in its files but does not transmit them to the designated Offices.

Must the applicant be represented by an agent for the national phase ?

Most designated Offices require non-resident applicants to be represented by an agent; others require non-resident applicants to have an address for service in the country. The National Chapters (Summary) indicate whether an agent must be appointed or whether an address for service is required.

When and how must the agent be appointed ?

It is highly recommended that an agent be appointed for the performance of the acts for entry into the national phase. An address for service, where required, should also be indicated at the time of performing those acts. As for any obligation to be represented by an agent or to have an address for service, it applies only once the national phase has started. The appointment of an agent must be made in a power of attorney signed by the applicant(s). Some countries has waived the requirement of filing authorization in recent times.

Who may act as an agent for the national phase ?

The reply to this question is given for each designated Office in the National Chapter (Summary). Lists with names and addresses of agents may be obtained from the designated Offices, but not from the International Bureau.

When must a copy of the priority document be furnished for the national phase ?

The priority document must be submitted during the international phase to the receiving Office or to the International Bureau, and the International Bureau makes it available to designated Offices. Where the priority document has been submitted within the time limit during the international phase to the receiving Office or to the International Bureau, no designated Office may require an original priority document (that is, an original certified copy of the earlier application) from the applicant. What may be required, however, is a copy of the priority document, that is, a simple photocopy of the original priority document (consisting of a copy of both the earlier application and the certificate of its filing date), together with a translation of the priority document (see paragraph 5.010). When must a translation of the priority document be furnished for the national phase ?

In general, a designated Office may require the applicant to furnish a translation of the priority document only where the validity of the priority claim is relevant to the determination of whether the invention concerned is patentable. However, some designated Offices (which have informed the International Bureau to that effect) require a translation of the priority document in all cases once national processing has started. Where such a requirement exists, it is indicated in the National Chapter (either in the Summary, if the translation must be furnished relatively shortly after entry into the national phase, or elsewhere, if it must be furnished at a later stage during the national phase) together with an indication of the time limit for furnishing the translation.

What is the effect of the PCT on the substantive conditions of patentability applied in the national phase ?

The PCT leaves each Contracting State free to determine substantive conditions of patentability. This is particularly true for what constitutes “prior art.” However, since the requirements of prior art as defined in the PCT and its Regulations for the purposes of the international phase are generally as strict as, or stricter than, those defined in any national law, the chances of unpleasant surprises by way of previously uncited prior art references being raised during the national phase are substantially reduced. On the other hand, the PCT does not prevent any national law from requiring the applicant to furnish, in the national phase, evidence in respect of any substantive condition of patentability in that law.

May the applicant correct errors in the translation of the international application ?

Where the translation of the international application contains an error, that error may be rectified, during the national phase, before all designated Offices. The scope of the translation of the international application may not, however, exceed the scope of the international application in its original language. Where, for example, as a result of incorrect translation, the scope of the international application in the language of the translation is narrower than in its original language, that scope may be broadened but must not exceed the original scope. Where the scope of the translation is broader than that of the international application in its original language, the designated Office or any other competent authority of the designated State may limit accordingly the scope of the international application or of a patent resulting from it.

What are the effects of a decision by a receiving Office to restore the right of priority on designated Offices ?

A decision by a receiving Office to restore a right of priority based on the criterion of “due care” will, as a general rule, be effective in all designated Offices, unless the designated Office submitted a notification of incompatibility under Rule 49ter.1 (g). A decision by a receiving Office to restore a right of priority based on the criterion of “unintentionality” will be effective only in those designated States the applicable laws of which provided for restoration of the right of priority based on that criterion or on a criterion which, from the viewpoint of applicants, is more favorable than that criterion. A decision by a receiving Office to refuse to restore the right of priority can always be reviewed by a designated Office, unless it has submitted a notification of incompatibility under Rule 49ter.1 (g), such that restoration is not possible in that jurisdiction. In addition, a review of a positive decision may be made by a designated Office in the limited situation where it reasonably doubts that one of the substantive requirements for restoration was complied with. No review is permitted on purely formal grounds, such as, for example, the ground that the relevant fee in the international phase might not have been paid.

Can a request to restore the right of priority also be filed directly with a designated Office ?

A request to restore the right of priority can also be filed directly with a designated Office once the applicant has entered the national phase before that Office. An applicant may wish to rely on this opportunity if he could not file a request to restore the right of priority with the receiving Office because of the operation of Rule 26bis.3 (j), or obtain the restoration of the priority right on the desired criterion because of the criterion for restoration applied by the receiving Office, or because the receiving Office has refused the request to restore filed with it (see Rule 49ter.1(e)). Several designated Offices have, however, notified the International Bureau under Rule 49ter.2(h) of the incompatibility of Rule 49ter.2(a) to (g) with the national law applied by that Office. As a result, these designated Offices will not accept a request to restore the right of priority filed with it. A list of Offices which have notified the International Bureau of the incompatibility of their national law with Rule 49ter.2 can be found on WIPO’s website at www.wipo.int/pct/en/texts/reservations/res_incomp.html#R_49ter_2_h.

What is the applicable time limit to request restoration of the right of priority with a designated Office ?

The time limit for complying with the requirements for requesting the restoration of the right of priority is at least one month from the applicable time limit under Article 22 for entering the national phase, though designated Offices are free to apply longer time limits where permitted under their national law (Rule 49ter.2(f)). If the designated Office requires the applicant to provide a declaration or evidence in support of the statement of reasons for failure to timely file the international application, it allows the applicant a reasonable time under the circumstances to furnish such documents.

How should a request for the restoration of the right of priority be filed with the designated Office ?

The request to restore the right of priority must be submitted by way of a letter to the designated Office. For the request to restore the right of priority to be successful; the following requirements must be met: - The international application must contain a priority claim to an earlier application and the international application must have been filed within two months from the expiration of the priority period. If the international application did not contain the relevant priority claim at the time of filing, such a claim must have been added, pursuant to Rule 26bis.1(a), before the expiration of the time limit under Rule 26bis.3(e) (Rule 26bis.3(c)); - The request to restore should state the reasons for the failure to file the international application within the priority period (see paragraph 6.010). The statement of reasons should be drafted in light of the restoration criterion which the applicant seeks to satisfy, from among those applied by the Office (see paragraph 6.009); - The request must be accompanied by any fee for requesting restoration required by the designated Office (see National Chapter, Annex I for whether a particular designated Office requires such a fee); - if required by the designated Office and subject to an invitation by the Office, a declaration or other evidence in support of the statement of reasons must be furnished (Rule 49ter.2(c)) (for the applicable time limit, see paragraph 6.007).

What are the criteria for restoration applied by the designated Office ?

There are generally two criteria for restoration: either the failure to file the international application within the priority period occurred in spite of due care required by the circumstances having been taken or the failure to file the international application within the priority period was unintentional. All designated Offices to which these Rules are applicable (see paragraph 6.006) must apply at least one of these criteria, or else one more favorable from the point of view of the applicant. If a designated Office wishes, it may apply both criteria for restoration.

What needs to be included in the statement of reasons for the request to restore the right of priority ?

The statement should indicate the reasons for the failure to file the international application within the priority period. It should contain all the relevant facts and circumstances which would allow the designated Office to determine that the failure to file the international application within the priority period occurred in spite of due care required by the circumstances having been taken or was unintentional.

Will there be an opportunity to convince the designated Office that it should not refuse the request ?

If the designated Office intends to refuse the request for the restoration of the priority claim, it is required to notify the applicant of its intention. The applicant must be given an opportunity to make observations on the intended refusal within a reasonable time limit, specified in the notification of intended refusal. Note that this notification may in practice be sent to the applicant together with an invitation to file a declaration or other evidence.

May the applicant amend the international application for the national phase ?

The PCT guarantees that the applicant may amend the claims, the description and the drawings before any designated Office. Although he already has had the opportunity to amend the claims in the international phase, he may wish to make further amendments, which may be different for the purposes of the various designated Offices, in the national phase, or he may wish to amend also the description or the drawings (which is not possible during the international phase unless the applicant has made a demand for international preliminary examination). All designated and elected Offices are obliged to permit such amendments for at least one month from the time when the applicant performs the steps necessary to enter the national phase. That minimum time limit may be later in certain exceptional circumstances specified in Rules 52.1 and 78. In any event, most designated and elected Offices permit amendments at any time during the national examination procedure (if applicable). The National Chapters give additional indications in this respect.

May the applicant correct obvious mistakes in the international application for the national phase ?

Normally, any obvious mistake in the description, claims and drawings may be corrected before the designated Office. The correction can be presented as an amendment, provided that the scope of the international application as originally filed is not thereby broadened.

What are the effects of the authorization of an obvious mistake on the designated and elected Offices ?

Generally designated and elected Offices must process the international application in the national phase “as rectified”, unless that designated or elected Office has already started the processing or examination of the international application before the date on which that Office is notified under Rule 91.3(a) by the International Bureau of the authorization of the rectification concerned. Otherwise, a designated or elected Office may disregard a rectification that was authorized under Rule 91.1 if it finds that it would not have authorized the rectification if it had been the competent authority (see Rule 91.3(f)). The designated Office may, however, only disregard any rectification that was authorized during the international phase, if it has given the applicant an opportunity to make observations, within a reasonable time limit, on the Office’s intention to disregard the rectification. Where the authorization of rectification has been refused during the international phase and the applicant has made a request for publication under Rule 91.3(d), he should repeat the request for rectification before each designated Office in a language admitted by that Office. The conditions for allowing the rectification of an obvious mistake depend on the national law and practice applied by the designated Offices. Applicants are advised to inquire at the Offices concerned regarding the conditions applicable.

In which case may a request for review be made ?

A review by the designated Office of the following decisions may be requested: (i) The receiving Office has refused to accord an international filing date to the international application because of certain defects in that application; (ii) The receiving Office has declared that the international application is considered withdrawn because of certain defects in that application or because of non-payment of the prescribed fees; (iii) The International Bureau has made a finding that the international application is considered withdrawn because it has not received the record copy within the prescribed time limit. Thus, those decisions that may have been made during the international phase and affect the international application as such are subject to review by each designated Office. Review by the designated Office consists of an examination to ascertain whether the receiving Office’s refusal or declaration or the International Bureau’s finding was the result of an error or omission on the part of the authority concerned.

What may be the result of a review by the designated Office ?

If the applicant has complied with the requirements outlined in the preceding paragraphs, the designated Office will make a finding on whether the decision was justified and, if it finds that it was the result of an error or omission, it must treat the international application as if that error or omission had not occurred, and maintain the effect of the international application as a regular national application as of the international filing date. If it finds that the decision was not the result of an error or omission, it may nevertheless maintain the effect of the international application under Article 24(2). The latter may be the case where the decision was the result of failure to meet a prescribed time limit (such as for the furnishing of corrections or the payment of fees); in such a case, the applicant is advised to request the designated Office not only to review the decision but also to excuse the delay. Details on the excusing of delays in meeting time limits are given in the following paragraphs.

Can a delay in meeting a time limit be excused ?

A delay in meeting a time limit which has resulted in the international application being considered withdrawn, during either the international phase or the national phase, may be excused under certain circumstances. The excusing of a delay is understood as any decision which has the effect of the international application being treated as if the time limit had not been exceeded. The excusing of a delay cannot be requested during the international phase, however. It may be granted only in the national phase (for delays in both the international phase and the national phase) by each designated Office individually, and only as far as that Office is concerned. The conditions laid down by the national law of each designated Office are paramount in determining whether a delay must be or may be excused. All national provisions related to the excusing of delays must be applied to international applications in the same way and under the same conditions as they are to national applications. Examples of such provisions are those that allow for the reinstatement of rights, restoration, restitutio in integrum, revival of abandoned applications, further processing, continuation of proceedings, and so on.

In respect of which time limits may delays be excused ?

The time limits concerned are all those fixed in the PCT Treaty and Regulations) and also any time limit fixed by a PCT authority and any time limit either fixed by, or in the national law applicable by, the designated Office for the performance of any act by the applicant before that Office, including the time limit for entering the national phase.

What must be done by the applicant who has exceeded a time limit ?

The applicant must perform all acts required for entry into the national phase. He must at the same time request the designated Office to excuse the delay and to maintain theeffect of the international application before it. The procedure depends on the national requirements applicable, including any time limit for filing a request to excuse the delay. Those requirements are indicated in the National Chapter. Applicants can usually be sure of meeting any such time limit when the request to excuse is made and the acts for entering the national phase are performed either within two months from the date of the notification of the unfavorable decision or within two months from the date on which the time limit (such as the time limit for entering the national phase) expired. The request for a delay to be excused should be made in addition to, and together with, any request for the review of a decision made by the receiving Office declaring the international application withdrawn for failure to comply with any requirement within a certain time limit. Should the designated Office confirm the decision made by the receiving Office, it may nevertheless maintain the effect of the international application because, under its national law, the delay may be excused in accordance with provisions for the reinstatement of rights, the revival of an abandoned application, the continuation of proceedings or the like. It should be noted that, as outlined in the preceding paragraphs, the applicant must, before each Office concerned, fulfill all the conditions in the applicable national law, including the making of the request for a delay to be excused within any time limit prescribed by the national law.

Which errors made by the receiving Office or the International Bureau may be rectified ?

If the receiving Office has made an error in according the international filing date or if the priority claim in the request has been erroneously considered by the receiving Office or the International Bureau not to have been made, the designated Office must rectify the error if it is one that it would have rectified in accordance with its national law or national practice had it made the error itself.

What must be done to request rectification of such an error and when ?

The applicant must request the designated Office to rectify the error and must prove, to the satisfaction of that Office, that the international filing date accorded by the receiving Office is incorrect owing to an error made by the receiving Office, or that a priority claim has erroneously been considered not to have been made by the receiving Office or the International Bureau. The request should be made on entering the national phase.

What has to be done by the applicant once the national phase has started ?

The usual national procedure applies to international applications during the national phase. What is said in the following text and in the National Chapter (Summary) concerns only the acts that must be performed for entry into the national phase and those acts that should be performed on entering the national phase but may still be performed once it has started. What has to be done thereafter-at least the main procedural steps-is outlined for each designated Office in the relevant National Chapter (Summary). Applicants who are not familiar with the patent procedure before a certain designated Office should seek professional advice even where they are not obliged to be represented before that Office by an agent.

What requirements need to be satisfied in relation to the furnishing of a sequence listing ?

No designated Office may require that the applicant furnish nucleotide and/or amino acid sequences and the listing of those sequences (“sequence listings”) in a format other than that complying with the standard provided for in Annex C of the Administrative Instructions (Standard for the Presentation of Nucleotide and Amino Acid Sequence Listings in International Patent Applications under the PCT). Where the international application contains one or more sequence listings which do not comply with the standard provided for in Annex C of the Administrative Instructions, any designated Office may require that an Annex C compliant sequence listing be furnished. Designated Offices may also require that an electronic version of a sequence listing be furnished, even if such a listing has been filed as part of the description of an electronically filed international application in an Annex C compliant format, or has been submitted for the purposes of international search under Rule 13ter during the international phase. This is because the electronic format in which it was filed during the international phase will not necessarily be in a format acceptable to that designated Office.

This information is gathered from www.wipo.int website