International Intellectual Property

International Intellectual Property

A Handbook of Contemporary Research

Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Daniel J. Gervais

International Intellectual Property: A Handbook of Contemporary Research provides researchers and practitioners of international intellectual property law with the necessary tools to understand the latest debates in this incredibly dynamic and complex field. The book contains both doctrinal analyses and groundbreaking theoretical research by many of the most recognized leading experts in the field. It offers overviews of the major international instruments, with specific chapters on the Berne and Paris Conventions, the Patent Cooperation treaty and several chapters that discuss parts of the TRIPS Agreement. The book can also be used by students of international intellectual property to obtain useful knowledge of major institutions and instruments, and to gain an understanding of ongoing discussions.

Chapter 10: The Patent Cooperation Treaty

Cees A.M. Mulder

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law, public international law


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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