A Receiving Office under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an organization established by an individual country to act as an official national patent office during the International Phase of the PCT. The Receiving Office is responsible for receiving and forwarding PCT applications to which specific requirements of the PCT may apply. It also performs other PCT formalities specified in the PCT and notices relating to international applications transmitted through it.
An International Search Authority or ISA is a national office or intergovernmental organization designated under the PCT. The ISA performs an international search of the invention disclosed in an international application (i.e., PCT Application). Based on the International Search, the ISA prepares a Written Opinion (WO). The Written Opinion explains whether your claimed invention meets the requirements of novelty, inventive step, and industrial applicability (patentability). The ISA transmits the Written Opinion to an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA).
Which Receiving Office should you choose to file your PCT Application?
The receiving office should be selected based on the residency and location of the inventors.
You can select any receiving office of any PCT member country where any inventor resides. Most U.S. inventors will use the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as their receiving office.
When the inventors are from different countries, you can also choose the International Bureau (IB) as the Receiving Office for your PCT Application. The International Bureau is a division of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It acts as a receiving office for applicants regardless of residency or nationality.
|Two Letter Country Code||Country||Time Limit|
|AE||United Arab Emirates||30|
|AG||Antigua and Barbuda||30|
|AP||African Regional Intellectual Property Organization||31|
|BA||Bosnia and Herzegovina||34|
|EP||European Patent Organisation||31|
|IR||Iran (Islamic Republic of)||30|
|KN||Saint Kitts and Nevis||30|
|MD||Republic of Moldova||31|
|OA||African Intellectual Property Organization||30|
|ST||Sao Tome and Principe||30|
|VC||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||31|
What does the International Search Authority do?
As the name suggests, the International Search Authority conducts a prior art search. It prepares an International Search Report (ISR) and Written Opinion (WO) during the International Phase of the PCT Process.
The written opinion is an opinion of the International Search Authority as to whether the claimed invention is novel and has an inventive step.
Which ISA do most inventors choose?
Most inventors choose the EPO, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, U.S., and the Russian Federation as their International Search Authority.
You don’t have to choose the ISAs listed above. You can select any of the following countries as the International Search Authority for your PCT Application.
- National Offices:
- Republic of Korea
- Russian Federation
- United States of America
- Regional Offices:
- European Patent Office
- Nordic Patent Institute
- Visegrad Patent Institute
Which International Search Authority should you choose for your PCT Application?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all answer for this question. Below, I will lay out two possible strategies for selecting an International Search Authority. The first strategy is based on the lowest cost as the most critical factor. The second strategy is based on the quality of the search as the most vital factor.
The lowest cost International Search Authority is Russia. Typically, when you select Russia as the International Search Authority, the PCT Application will cost you around $3,500. Select Russia as your International Search Authority if you want to have one of the lowest cost PCT Application.
The EPO and the United States Patent and Trademark Office perform the highest quality searches and written opinions. But, they are also more expensive than Russia. PCT Applications will cost around $5,500 when these countries are selected as the ISA for your PCT Application.
Nevertheless, selecting a higher costing International Search Authority with a higher quality search may cost you less in the long run. Here’s the logic.
The International Search Authority issues an International Search Report (ISR) and Written Opinion (WO), which explains whether your claimed invention meets the novelty and invention step requirements. The Written Opinion can serve as a pre-examination step before you enter the national phase of the PCT process. Based on the Written Opinion, you would amend your claims to overcome any issues related to novelty and inventive step. In theory, this works to improve the likelihood of gaining allowance of the claimed invention. This strategy will reduce the overall cost of securing patents in foreign countries in the long run.
The International Search Authority with the highest quality searches, at least in my experience, are the EPO and the United States.