Just now I e-filed a PCT patent application in the Receiving Office of the International Bureau. I did this using WIPO’s ePCT system. And a mere sixty seconds later, I was able to click and see a draft of the front page of what will eventually be the eighteen-month publication, all the way down to the date (February 5, 2015) that it will probably be published. I am astonished at the level of integration among WIPO’s various systems that must have been accomplished to make this possible. Indeed there are half a dozen good things about this e-filing experience that deserve comment.
Visibility to client at all stages of preparation and filing. I started this e-filing project in the ePCT system in June of 2014. By establishing an e-handshake with the client, I was able to allow the client to view the e-filing project weeks before the application was actually e-filed. This permitted the client to view the PCT Request and to check it for accuracy. Our international application went through several drafts and this ePCT access permitted the client to view each draft and to let me know any comments. When I clicked “submit”, this permitted the client to see exactly what had been filed.
The ePCT system permits me to specify the level of access that each person enjoys regarding a particular application file. In the case of the client, the level of access that I picked was “eViewer”. This lets the client view everything about the application in ePCT but does not let the client change anything.
It is not possible to overstate the many benefits that follow from this kind of direct client access. The inventor lives in Thailand and at various points during the e-filing project was traveling in other countries in Asia. Another of the client contact people was in various places in Europe during this process. I have never actually met either of these people in person, and each of these people had previously had only very limited exposure to the PCT filing process. I think it made a big difference to these people to be able to see the steps of the e-filing process — building the Request, setting up access to the priority application in the DAS system, uploading and previewing the various drafts of the application that was to be filed. This 24×7 access permitted effective collaboration by people on three continents, across multiple time zones, and during international travel by these people.
And for the client contact people, ePCT will be a gift that keeps on giving. The client contact people will receive an automated email from ePCT each time another document is added to the file at the IB. They will hear about it instantly when the RO mails out the Filing Receipt (form PCT/RO/105). They will hear about it instantly when the IB mails out the Receipt of Record Copy (form PCT/IB/301). They will hear about it instantly when the ISA mails out the Receipt of Search Copy (form PCT/ISA/202).
This client by now appreciates the importance of the International Search Report and Written Opinion and is eagerly awaiting their establishment by the ISA. When these documents get mailed out by the ISA, the client will hear about it instantly and will be able to view and download and print them right away.
When the end of the 30-month period draws near, the client will receive a reminder email from the IB about it.
During the weeks leading up to the filing of this PCT patent application, the client was able to log in to ePCT at any hour of the night or day, from anywhere in the world, to view and download and print out any of the documents in the file such as the draft Request and the draft application. Now that the PCT application has been filed, the client will be able to log in to ePCT at any hour of the night or day, from anywhere in the world, to see the status of the application and the contents of the file including any newly added documents.
The client is able to click on the Time Line provided in ePCT. This Time Line tells us (among other things) the priority date, the international filing date, the date that the application is scheduled to be published by the IB, and the 30-month date.
Submit same-day corrections. ePCT has recently added a “same-day corrections” button and status field, as shown in the figure. The system tells you how much time is left between now and midnight in the Receiving Office (in this case, twelve hours and twenty minutes). ePCT permits the filer to review what the Receiving Office has received. Suppose the filer were to discover that a page of the application had been omitted, or a sheet of drawings. This “corrections” button makes it easy, with just a few mouse clicks, for the filer to upload the missing page or sheet, while preserving the international filing date.