A member of the PCT Listserv (which you should join) asked:
WIPO (or the ISA) changed the title of my PCT application. But I can’t work out when/where/how/why it was done. The A2 publication has one title (the one we gave it). The A3 publication has a slightly different title. Interestingly, the change narrowed the title in a similar way to the way the Written Opinion said that the claimed invention should be narrowed. Any suggestions?
First, I can tell you that the ISA did it.
Now to the details.
The most visible tasks carried out by the International Searching Authority are the establishment of the International Search Report and the Written Opinion.
But the ISA does lots of other things that often go unnoticed. As one example the ISA classifies the PCT application into an International Patent Class. The ISA decides whether the Abstract and Title are defective. And if the ISA finds the Title or Abstract to be defective, then the ISA will “establish” a corrected Title or Abstract (or both). As for the Title, see PCT Rule 37 and as for the Abstract, see PCT Rule 38.
The ISA communicates such actions in the International Search Report, which you would have received some weeks earlier than the date you received the A3 publication. In other words, the change of title should not actually be a surprise to you at this point.
Suppose you are not satisfied with the newly established Title or Abstract? Is there anything you can do about it?
In the case of the Abstract, there is an explicit procedure. You can submit proposed modifications to the ISA, so long as you do it within one month of the date of mailing of the ISR. (I am indebted to alert listserv member Cheryl Ferne for pointing this out to me some years ago.) There is, however, no corresponding procedure for the filer that is dissatisfied with the newly established Title.
You could, of course, amend the title at the time of entry into the national phase.
WIPO’s PCT Newsletter had an article in January of 2011 discussing this business of the ISA changing the title. The article points out that if you were dissatisfied with the newly established Title, and if you were already planning to file a Demand, you could ask the IPEA to review the propriety of the Title.
The other situation in which a filer might find the Title or Abstract to be other than what was expected is when a PCT application is published in a language other than English. In such a case, the International Bureau prepares English translations of the Title and Abstract and ISR and includes them in the first publication (the A1 or A2). (The IB also prepares an English translation of the Written Opinion which can be very helpful for those seeking PCT-PPH status in the US.) There is no explicit procedure by which an applicant may seek review of the translated Title or translated Abstract. The usual time to address such concerns would be at the time of entry into the national phase.