International PCT applications

The PCT procedure facilitates processing of applications for protection of inventions when this protection is sought for several countries, establishing a system whereby filing a single application has the same effect as if the application had been filed in each of the signatory countries of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (152 on 1 November 2018).

Under this system, the procedure is started simultaneously  in a large number of countries through a single application.

It is important to clarify that it is not a patent granting procedure, nor does it replace granting of national patents, but rather it is a system that unifies the processing prior to granting. Furthermore, this procedure allows you to "buy time", since you can delay your decision to enter the national phase for up to 30 months from the international or priority filing date, as applicable, and keep your invention secret for a minimum of 18 months, which can be useful for testing its feasibility and avoiding unnecessary expenses.

The SPTO acts as a receiving office for international PCT applications whose holders are Spanish or legal residents of Spain.

Spanish applicants, moreover, have an important advantage, as the SPTO is not only a Receiving Office but also an International Search and International Preliminary Examination Agency, which means that applicants can carry out all international patent-related procedures up to entry in the National Phase (month 30 from the priority date) in Spanish and in a user-friendly way.

This PCT channel allows electronic submission of applications, as well as the files containing the description, claims and drawings in PDF or XML format, more information at the OEPM Electronic Office. Depending on the method used, significant discounts can be applied to the filing fees, so the SPTO recommends using the online filing method.

In addition, it should be noted that if the SPTO has been designated by the applicant as the International Searching Authority, in the event that the applicant later opts for the European regional route, the European Patent Office will apply a discount of €1150 to the European search fee.

Lastly, the SPTO is also the competent International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority for applicants from the following Ibero-American countries: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru. It is important to note that for some of these countries, classified by the World Bank as having low-, lower middle- or upper middle-income economies, the SPTO offers discounts of 75% on the international search fee, in addition to the abovementioned discount, for Ibero-American applicants who designate the SPTO as the International Searching Authority and later opt for the European regional route.