Thursday, October 14, 2004

Advantages of PCT filing at Swiss receiving office

An article by Joe Berghammer in IP Law & Business points to certain advantages in filing a PCT application with the Swiss receiving office. Remember that a PCT application is a US application.

-->This is where the Patent Cooperation Treaty comes in. Patent applications published under the treaty through any international receiving office (including the office in Geneva) benefit from U.S. laws regarding publication. Many receiving offices are more efficient at publication of applications than the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the fastest is in Switzerland. Companies knowledgeable of this difference can use it to their competitive advantage.

By following the seemingly odd route of filing an international patent application in Geneva, our cereal company, and hundreds of other companies facing similar dilemmas, can get things turned around in 30 days.

The standard publication time frame for international receiving offices is 18 months. However, knowing the internal procedures of the particular international office, and diligently following up, can reduce that time frame. Understanding what parts of the procedure can slow the application is vital. For example, filing a Petition to Make Special, a practice that can generally speed prosecution of the application, can actually delay its publication. Moreover, applicants should be willing to ask questions, such as how publication procedures are followed internally by particular receiving office officials, and whether additional information would speed publication. And they should be open to cultural differences and expectations: The Swiss Receiving Office, for example, has a predilection for electronic communications.

In one instance, a client of ours, a consumer display company, became aware that a competitor had copied its new displays and was preparing a large shipment of the knock-off goods in six to eight weeks. We filed a patent application for the displays in Switzerland, and secured publication of the application in 29 days. We then notified the competitor of the applicationÕs publication. This put them on the hook for damages for the entirety of their imminent shipment. <--


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