PCT: The backbone of the international patent system

Maximiliano Santa Cruz Scantlebury
National Director of the National Institute of Industrial Property – INAPI

It has been over six years from the entry of Chile to one of the most important and successful agreements of intellectual property. The 2nd of June of 2009 our country was incorporated into the 148 member nations of the Patent Cooperation Treatment (known as PCT), managed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and which saw the light over 40 years ago, in 1970.

Practically all of our major commercial partners like United States, the European Union, Brazil and China are PCT members. In addition, it can be highlighted that countries with very different economic developments such as Australia, Mexico, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Malaysia and India are members as well. This proves the trust put in this international agreement, which also foster innovation and technology transfer, through the free and efficient access to an enormous database of technology information on patents.

The incorporation of Chile to the PCT has completed a triad of significant events that have strongly impacted on the intellectual property system in our country. Besides the implementation in Chile of the intellectual property agreement from the World Trade Organization´s (WTO), during 2005, as well as the signing of a couple of free trade agreements, remarkably the one with United States, the PCT has closed a cycle of important transformations within our intellectual property system.

The PCT is a strategic tool in two aspects. On one hand, facilitates the patenting of our nationals overseas; as counterpart the foreigners obtain a much more easy access to patent in Chile. On the other hand, expedites the work of industrial property offices and improves the quality on granted patents.

This agreement concentrates a large interest from the Chilean innovators, expressed on the 48 patent applications at INAPI during the very first year of the enactment entry. Such figure is one of the highest at the Latin American level, during the first year of the enactment of this treaty.

Before this agreement, Chileans should make the patent application on every single country where they wanted to have protection, immediately after the first 12 months to its application in Chile; in that form, the invention still was considered a novelty, and if they would intend to use the PCT, Chileans should associate or find administrative loopholes.

Nowadays Chile is part of the PCT and national innovators can simply apply with an only solicitude at the National Institute of Industrial Property (INAPI), which will be considered as simultaneously applied in each of the 148 country members of this treaty.

This allows saving costs, because they are not required to make multiple translations on the application, nor undergo to diverse procedures and neither make payments on multiple currencies according to where they would like to protect. Today they can apply in Spanish, in a single procedure to be paid in Chilean pesos.

The PCT is a good example of globalization and internationalization of the intellectual property system. Its virtue resides in the enhancement of the international patenting and the cooperation of the industrial property offices, and at the same time it does it respecting the whole sovereignty of the member countries which can freely determine the patentability conditions and deciding whether an invention is finally patentable.

The PCT is a crucial tool to achieve the goals of the Ministry of Economy in Chile, about strengthening the institutional framework for intellectual and industrial protection, promoting the invention as well as patenting among Chilean scientists and entrepreneurs.

If the WTO intellectual property agreement in 1994, known as TRIPS or ADPIC, was probably the most transcendent milestone of the past century for substantive harmonization, the PCT was the equivalent on the matter of cooperation and infrastructure on the global patent system. So much so that Francis Gurry, current WIPO Director General, has called it the “backbone of the international patent system”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s