Can I Convert a US Provisional Patent Application to an International Patent Application?

A US Non-provisional application must be filed in the US or any foreign country within 12 months of its provisional filing date to benefit from the priority date established by the provisional application.  The provisional patent application provides the patent applicant with 12 months to decide in which countries a patent application should be filed (US or other jurisdictions).

However, in that same 12-month window, the patent applicant may choose to convert the US Provisional to an international, patent cooperation treaty (PCT) patent application.

PCT Patent Process:

  1. PCT Application is filed 
    1. (by 12-month filing deadline)
  2. PCT Examination Results received 
    1. (6-8 Months from PCT filing)
  3. Select which PCT member states in which you would like your PCT application recognized 
    1. (within 30-32 months)
  4. Report your PCT Application and Examination Results to the member state 
    1. (US/Europe/Canada/China/Japan/Russia/etc)
  5. Enter National Stage Examination in the member state

Filing a PCT application essentially takes that 12 month US deadline and turns it into a 30-month extension for all 148 PCT member states, i.e. 18 additional months.

If your company has plans to take its operations and sales internationally, or if you plan to get acquired by a larger entity, having a PCT application ready to file each country you plan to expand to can prove an invaluable tool to protect your IP.  This rings especially true for Software as a Service (SaaS) and Information Technology (IT) companies, as the product being offered can more easily be infringed upon when compared to a physical product, especially abroad. 

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney. 

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