It is useful to discuss WIPO patents because of a common confusion. Small business owners approaching patents for the first time have asked me if there is a world patent. The confusion here is pretty obvious I think. They have seen a PCT application and up in the right hand corner they have seen a designation such as WO 2008/021109 A2 as seen below:
When they see the WO they make a quick leap to thinking this is a "World" patent of some kind.
But here is the deal:
This WO 2008/021109 A2 is in fact the publication number of the PCT application. They are one and the same. And if you remember our discussion on Foreign Patents I and Foreign Patents II - the PCT is an application but not a patent - and never in itself will become a patent.
Remember the PCT or WIPO patents process is in effect a placeholder:
To pursue patent protection around the world, you usually start by filing a patent application in the country where you live. This application is known as the priority application and the date it is filed is the priority date.
Then if you choose you file an international-type patent application called a PCT Application within 12 months of your initial filing. You do this in your home country’s patent office. You now have the right to later (limit 18-19 months later) enter your patent into something like 120 countries that are members of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
These "WIPO Patents" ( PCT applications) are definitely international but it does not lead to a global patent and there is no such thing). Instead, you you have bought the right to apply for patents in all the specific countries and regions where you wish to pursue patent protection.
To do this you file separate national applications within 30 months (31 months in some countries) of the priority date. This process of converting a PCT application into individual national patent applications is called PCT national stage entry or entering the national stage.
Once you enter the national stage your application will be examined eventually. In some countries you have to file a request for examination. The examination from that point forward is similar to an examination in the US Patent Office. You will receive an examination report, which as in the US Patent Office is sometimes called an office action. You must respond, just as in a patent prosecution in the USPTO.
If you are a U.S. applicant your friendly patent prosecutor (agent or attorney) will handle all of these steps for you, from filing the PCT to handling the patent prosecution.
That's what WIPO patents are.
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Mike Ervin - Cost Effective Small Business Patent Protection.
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