PCT Application Process

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international agreement providing for central, official search and examination of PCT applications. A PCT application must be followed by national processing or a patent to be granted.


A PCT application is usually filed following the filing of an informal British Patent Application. If significant developments have been made to the invention since the time of filing in the UK, these developments can be included in the description and claims of the PCT specification.

The countries in which a patent is ultimately sought must be designated in a PCT application and appropriate official fees paid.


The first stage of a PCT application is an International Search – performed by the European Patent Office for a PCT filed at the British Patent Office. The search is for prior patent publications potentially relevant to the patentability of the invention. The Search Report will be accompanied by a Written Opinion giving a reasoned argument as to patentability in view of the documents found.


Normally 18 months from the priority date claimed, the PCT Specification will be published. If the Search Report is not yet available, it will be separately published shortly afterwards.


The second, optional stage in a PCT application is International Examination. If the Search Report shows that the invention is broadly patentable, the cost of International Examination can be avoided. If the Written Opinion is not favourable, the claims can be amended, arguments submitted and the International Examination fee paid within 22 months of the earliest priority date. An International Examination Report will be issued after the Examination. It will identify which claims are thought to define a new invention or not and which are inventive or not, i.e. obvious.


PCT applications must be followed within 30 months, plus a small extension in certain countries, of the earliest priority date for patents to be granted there.


Typical PCT Application Costs


Simple Case Typical Case Complex Case
Application £4,500 £5,000 £6,100
IPED £2,600 £2,800 £3,400
Examination Objection £0 £600 £1,400
Grant and Printing Fees £2,600 £2,600 £2,600
Total – incl. Official fees excl. VAT £9,700 £11,000 £13,500