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PCT Filing Timeline

Several patent applicants file foreign patent applications through a process under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), a treaty in which most countries participate. A PCT patent application can be filed by an applicant within 12 months of the earliest filing date for an application. The PCT filing application can be converted into national applications in taking part countries by entering a "national phase" within prescribed time limits.

As a result of a recent change in the rules governing PCT applications, for countries enacting rules or laws to implement the PCT changes, applicants will be able to postpone the time for entering the national phase until 30 months from the priority date without taking any steps after filing the PCT application.

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The basic time limit has changed by PCT for entry into the national phase from 20 months to 30 months from the priority date. Therefore, the PCT will provide a single time period for national phase filing of PCT applications. Subject to the passage of implementing legislation, the change in rules applies to PCT applications for which the 20-month period expires on or after April 1, 2002 that is, for applications for which the 19-month Chapter II Demand deadline falls on or after March 1, 2002. For such applications and for filing national phase applications in those countries, which have enacted implementing legislation, the Chapter II Demand deadline can be disregarded without jeopardizing the ability to enter the national phase because the deadline for entry is extended automatically to 30 months from the priority date.