On 24 September 2009, Thailand became the 142nd country to ratify the Patent Cooperation Treaty ("PCT").
The PCT is an international agreement which enables multinational patent protection via a single application. It is open to contracting states of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, which Thailand joined in August 2008. Thailand's membership takes effect on 24 December 2009.
Principal benefits of the PCT:
1. Inventors need only file one international patent application at the Department of Intellectual Property in their home country to acquire patent protection simultaneously in other PCT member countries.
2. Costs will be significantly reduced as only one application needs to be submitted.
3. Applicants have the opportunity to conduct an international patent database search and carry out an international preliminary examination to evaluate the chances of success in acquiring patent protection in a particular country. Applicants may amend or suspend any applications where it appears that there is little chance of success.
4. The process of obtaining an international patent via the PCT system is significantly faster and simpler.
5. Obtaining international protection through the PCT puts a patent in the world arena, and thus serves as a valuable advertising tool.
6. Third parties are able to develop sound opinions in relation to an invention's patentability.
To facilitate Thailand's membership of the PCT, the Ministerial Regulation No. 21 B.E. 2542 (1999) will need to be revised, particularly to reflect the Thai Patent Office's role as a Receiving Office under the PCT system, as well as the fees for international patent applications.