Combining a national, European and PCT application

An example


It is possible to combine the national, European and international application procedures. The following fictitious stories show how, on the way to obtaining a patent, various considerations can lead to different application procedures.


Giovanni, an independent pharmacist in Switzerland, has developed a helpful process for manufacturing pharmaceutical capsules. Laboratory tests have convinced him of the feasibility of his idea. Before he begins talking to the production manager of a mid-sized company about industrialising his procedure, Giovanni wants to protect his invention.

Giovanni has limited funds so he applies for a Swiss patent. To verify the novelty of his invention, he has a Swiss Patent Application Search carried out.
The production manager, Natascha, is impressed with Giovanni's procedure. The search results, which are now available, also confirm the patentability of his idea. She convinces the management to make a licencing agreement with Giovanni.
Giovanni submits an application for his manufacturing process through the PCT procedure within the priority period of the Swiss patent application.
Two years later, the company is using the manufacturing process at a profit. However, no other business is interested in a licence and Natascha's company doesn't want to operate beyond Europe. Giovanni and Natascha decide to continue the PCT application with an EP procedure.
During the patent examination at the European Patent Office, Giovanni suspends the examination of the Swiss patent application. Giovanni can take this up again should Natascha decide not to pursue the European patent such as for reasons of cost.