In case of PCT International applications, an International Searching Authority is the one who establishes a written opinion on the invention’s potential patentability by identifying already published patent documents and technical literature i.e. prior arts which may have an influence on whether the invention is patentable or not.
When an international patent application is made through PCT, international searches are carried out by an International Searching Authority or International Preliminary Examination Authority as the case may be, by either a National Office or an intergovernmental organization designated by the PCT for this purpose. The search includes establishing of documentary search reports on prior arts with respect to inventions which are the subject of applications and other related functions. The International Searching Authority makes a list of prior art documents which they consider destroys the patentability of the invention claimed in the PCT International application.
At present, there are 22 International Searching Authorities designated by the PCT which carries out searches for PCT International application.
Indian Patent Office as an International Searching Authority
An agreement between the Indian Patent Office and the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization in relation to functioning of the Indian Patent Office as an International Searching Authority and an International Preliminary Examination Authority came into force on October 15, 2013. Therefore, the Indian Patent Office acts as a receiving office of PCT International applications.
Indian Patent Office growing fast as an International Searching Authority
In 2017, Indian Patent Office has occupied a place in the top 10 International Searching Authorities among the 22 International Searching Authorities in terms of receiving request for International searches for PCT International applications,
This shows that Indian Patent Office is widely selected by applicants as their receiving office to conduct searches for their PCT International applications. In a short period of four years the Indian Patent Office as an International Searching Authority has received 3150 request for International searches and it has examined 2904 out of them. These requests have been from all over the world and not only Indian applicants as it is not mandatory for Indian applicants to select Indian Patent Office as their Searching Authority. This is a great achievement by the Indian Patent Office in a very short period of time.