Law - PCT Filing Date

Many PCT patentability rules relate to the filing date of the international patent application. For searching and examination purposes, the term "PCT (international) filing date" refers to the relevant date, i.e., the earlier of the actual international filing date or the filing date of a "priority" patent application filed by the applicant(s) containing a disclosure that supports the claimed invention. Under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, a priority application must have been filed no more than 12 months before the actual filing date of the PCT application (PCT Article 4). A priority application may be an international, regional (e.g., EPO) or national patent application. A U.S. national application may be a provisional or regular patent application.

A PCT application may also be filed as a continuation or continuation-in-part application of a copending national patent application. The copending national application must have been filed in a country designated in the PCT application that allows such treatment of its national applications, such as the U.S. In this case, the PCT filing date (with respect to that country only) can be pushed back to the filing date of the earlier-filed national application for the subject matter that was disclosed in that national application.

The position of the USPTO on this issue is described in the following section(s) of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP):

MPEP 1810 - Filing Date Requirements
MPEP 1817.02 - Continuation or Continuation-in-Part Indicated in the Request
MPEP 1828 - Priority Claim and Document
MPEP 1878.01(a) - Prior Art Under Chapter II
MPEP 201.11 - Continuity between Applications: When Entitled to Filing Date
MPEP 201.04 - Parent Application
MPEP 201.04(b) - Provisional Application
MPEP 201.07 - Continuation Application
MPEP 201.08 - Continuation-in-Part Application

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