A Handbook of Contemporary Research
Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series
Edited by Daniel J. Gervais
Chapter 10: The Patent Cooperation Treaty
In the mid 1960s, national patent offices became worried about the rapid increase in the number of patent applications they had to digest. Backlogs in substantive examination of applications resulted in delayed decisions on the grant of patents. An additional problem was caused by the fact that, during pendency, applications were often kept secret. This secrecy created uncertainty among the public – and in particular potential competitors – about potential inventions for which protection was sought. Proposals for a new system to publish the applications within a relatively short period of time were thus seen as desirable, as was having a preliminary report (even if non-binding) available on the patentability of the claimed invention. At that time only national patent laws existed. Hence, an inventor seeking protection for an invention needed to file applications in several countries more or less at the same time to avoid destroying the novelty of the invention. All national patent offices would then perform more or less the same search (of the patent literature) and examination work. There was little if any exchange or use of this work among patent offices. It is also important to note that most patent offices require the use of a specific language for the drafting of the national application, forcing applicants seeking protection in several countries to translate their application into a number of languages.
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