The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), established in 1978, has now reached a landmark of 3 million published PCT applications, as was recently announced by the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This is a tribute to the success of the PCT system and its wide-ranging use by innovators to protect their innovations worldwide.

The PCT was established in 1978 with 18 founding members and has evolved into an international treaty with 151 Member States[1]. The PCT is in its essence a procedural treaty, permitting the filing of a single application to thereby secure an effective filing date in all PCT Member States.

The filing of a PCT Application provides a period of 30-months from the earliest priority date of the PCT application[2], for filing national or regional[3] applications. The further prosecution of the patent applications towards patent grant is then handled through separate and independent procedures before each patent office[4]. Filing a PCT Application does not reduce any costs and in fact adds the PCT-related costs on top of those required for national and regional filing. However, the biggest significance is considerably delaying the large costs associated with such filing. This time period can be put to constructive use to further investigate the invention, relevance and market potential and assess the prospects for obtaining enforceable patents, prior to committing substantial funds to an international filing program.

The PCT route is recognized as an important and effective tool and extensively used by innovators, worldwide, in their international filing program.

On February 2, 2017, the Director General of WIPO – Mr. Francis Gurry, announced that the PCT has achieved an important milestone in its history with the publication of the 3 millionth application filed under the Treaty. This is an impressive increase from 459 applications filed in 1978 to more than 230,000 filed in 2016, and in Mr. Gurry's words "far exceeding even the most optimistic expectations of the founders of the PCT".

We celebrate together with WIPO the impressive success of its PCT system.