For a flat fee of $1,100, companies can file a request for patent protection in any or all of the 124 countries that have signed up to the system. WIPO registers the applications, publishes them and carries out an examination to determine whether the product or process in the application appears to be new.
"The alternative is for you to go to every country individually and apply there for patent protection," Shamoon said.
By sector, the most patents are filed in pharmaceuticals (6 percent), followed by information technologies (5-6 percent), biotechnology (3 percent) and telecommunications (3 percent), she said.
One does note that, in the end, one does have to meet the requirements of the individual countries. The PCT procedure allows one to buy time, but does not obviate the rules imposed by individual countries. It does not create a single patent enforceable in the world.