Before international publication
The existence of an international application is not public until the international publication (A30.1.a PCT, excluding IB, RO and ISA).
Nevertheless, the IB issues copies of any document contained in the file:
- at the request of the applicant or any person authorized by the applicant (against reimbursement of the cost of the service, A30.1 PCT together R94.1.a PCT);
- in case of order of a competent court requesting access to the file (A30.2.c PCT).
After international publication
Access from the IB
If the application has been published, can be obtained by public, at the IB:
- international demand (A30.1.a PCT);
- changes made under theA19 PCT (R48.2.f PCT)
- the RRI (excluding written opinion, A21.3 PCT and R48.2.av PCT);
- copies of the priority documents (R17.2.c PCT);
- any document (R94.1.b PCTsubject to the confidential nature of the search (A38 PCT) and the examination (R44ter.1 PCT), see below).
Access can be done free of charge via PatentScope®.
Access from ISA
If the application has been published, can be obtained by elected offices, to the IPEA:
- copies of any document contained in the file (R94.3 PCT).
Access from designated Offices
The national legislation of an elected Office may allow access public in the file of an international application, if allowed for a national application (R94.3 PCT).
A fee may be requested.
Restriction on the written opinion of the research
The IB and ISA do not allow any person (public or government) to have access to the written opinion of the R43bis.1 PCT or the preliminary report on patentability (Chapter I) of the R44bis PCT before the expiry of 30 months from the date of priority (R44ter.1.a PCT and R94.1.b PCT).
The applicant may nevertheless access these documents or authorize a third party to have access to them (R44ter.1.a PCT).
End of restriction = public access at 30 months
Once 30 months have elapsed, these documents will be accessible.
Restriction for examination report
The IB and IPEA do not allow any person (public or administrative, even at elected offices) to have access to the record of the examination before the examination report is made (A38.1 PCT).
End of restriction = access to offices elected when the examination report was drawn up
Access to the public indirectly?
Normally, the public never has access to the examination report.
Nevertheless, as we have seen above, the national legislation of the elected states may allow access to the file by the public, this file containing the examination report (R94.3 PCT).
In addition, the examination report may be transmitted by the IB to a third party if an elected Office so requests (R94.1.c PCT).
Retention of records
Each RO retains the records and records relating to any international application for 10 years from the filing date (or the date of receipt of the first documents not allowing a filing date to be attributed) (R93.1 PCT).
By the IB
The IB keeps the file (including the original copy) for 30 years from the date of receipt of the original copy (R93.2.a PCT).
The basic folder is kept indefinitely (R93.2.b PCT).
By IPEA or ISA
Each ISA and each IPEA retain the file for 10 years from the international filing date (R93.3 PCT).