World Intellectual Property Organization

Frequently Asked Questions (updated December 2014)

  • The PCT-SAFE System

What is PCT-SAFE?
How does PCT-SAFE work?
How do I get started?
What is the difference between PCT-EASY mode and Fully electronic mode?
Will I get a fee reduction for filing my application electronically?
What are the methods of payment of PCT-SAFE applications?
Which receiving Offices accept PCT-SAFE applications?
What are the legal and technical requirements for e-filing under the PCT?

 

  • Software Installation

Where can I get the software?
How do I install PCT-SAFE?
What are the minimum system requirements?
What operating systems does PCT-SAFE run on?
Do I need any other software with PCT-SAFE?

 

  • Preparing a PCT-SAFE Application

What is the difference between Demo mode and Production mode?
What file formats are required in electronic filing?
Is it possible to file fully electronic applications in non-Latin languages with RO/IB?
How do I prepare the PCT/RO/101 Electronic Request form?
What is a basic signature versus an enhanced signature and when do I use them?
How can I preview and print my PCT application?

 

  • Submitting a Fully Electronic PCT-SAFE Application

Is it possible to file applications any time of the day?
How will I know that my electronic application was safely received?
How do I file a fully electronic application on physical media?

 

  • Certificates and Security

Is online filing safe?
How do I obtain a WIPO digital certificate?
Can I use a digital certificate obtained from another Office/Authority?
What can I do if: I forgot my WIPO certificate password - I cannot access my digital certificate - I believe my digital certificate was compromised?
Can I file an application without using a digital certificate?
Can I use my digital certificate on more than one computer?
Can others use my digital certificate?

 

  • Next Steps

Is it possible to file electronically documents other than the application itself?

 

  • Help Desk and Support

Where can I find support?

 

 

The PCT-SAFE system

 

What is PCT-SAFE?

WIPO's electronic filing software, PCT-SAFE (SAFE = Secure Applications Filed Electronically), offers PCT users the means to prepare their international applications in electronic form and to file them either via secure online transmission or using physical media such as CD-R. The software can also be operated in PCT-EASY mode in order to generate only the request form data and abstract in electronic form.

"The PCT-SAFE software supports all of the requirements of the basic common standard and certain alternatives available under Annex F. Use of the PCT-SAFE software is not mandatory but any applicant may choose to use it, in which case the receiving Office must accept the international application concerned (except where it has notified a transitional reservation under AIs Section 703(f) in that respect). Any receiving Office may also specify other filing software acceptable to it." (Section 6 of Annex F [PDF] of the Administrative Instructions Under the PCT).

 

How does PCT-SAFE work?

The PCT-SAFE system contains three components:

  • PCT-SAFE client  for preparing the PCT request form.  In case of e-filing, it is also used for securely transmitting the entire application to the receiving Office;
  • security services and a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI);
  • a receiving server for use in receiving Offices, that  includes a back-end system to process the received data.

 

How do I get started?

Please see the PCT eServices homepage, the User documentation and training tools page and especially the Getting Started page. Add text about ePCT?

 

What is the difference between PCT-EASY mode and Fully electronic mode?

PCT-SAFE enables two modes of filing PCT international applications: Fully electronic mode and PCT-EASY mode. The choice between the two filing modes is made on the "Contents" page when preparing the request form in the PCT-SAFE Client software.

  • Fully electronic mode: The description, claims, abstract and drawings (the "application body") of the international application are attached in PDF, TIFF or XML format.
  • PCT-EASY mode: The request form as well as the application body of the international application will be submitted on paper, accompanied by a physical medium (floppy disk, CD, etc.) which contains a zip file with the request form, the abstract and a log file created through the PCT-SAFE Client software.

Fee reductions for electronic filing depend on the mode selected.

 

Will I get a fee reduction for filing my application electronically?

Yes. The international filing fee is reduced by the following amount if the international application is, in accordance with and to the extent provided for in the Administrative Instructions, filed:

  • on paper together with a copy  in electronic form, in character coded format (XML), of the request and the abstract (PCT-EASY type application): 100 CHF (or equivalent),
  • in electronic form, the request not being in character coded format (e.g. in PDF or TIFF): 100 CHF (or equivalent),
  • in electronic form,  the request  being in character coded format: 200 CHF (or equivalent),
  • in electronic form, the request, as well as the description, claims and abstract being in character coded format (XML, prepared e.g. with WIPO's docx to XML converter): 300 CHF (or equivalent).

 

What are the methods of payment of PCT-SAFE applications?

There are various payment modes that can be chosen in the software, depending on the receiving Office selected, e.g. when filing with WIPO's receiving Office (RO/IB), you can authorize the RO/IB to debit your WIPO current account or pay by credit card (to be indicated on the Payment tab of the PCT-SAFE electronic request form). Please see also: Modes of payment of fees to the RO/IB.

 

Which receiving Offices accept PCT-SAFE applications?

It is possible to file fully electronic PCT-SAFE applications with a number of e-filing receiving Offices. The RO/US accepts PCT applications filed electronically, using the PCT-SAFE software in combination with USPTO's EFS-Web system (see instructions [PDF]).

For  the acceptance of PCT-EASY type applications please see the list of receiving Offices.

 

What are the legal and technical requirements for e-filing under the PCT? 

Underlying the PCT-SAFE requirements is a two-fold technical standard that ensures systems interoperability through the use of a common protocol and standardized data format using the Extensible Markup Language (XML) computer language. Furthermore, the software has been developed with an emphasis on component reuse, for example in the customization of existing electronic filing software [see diagram].

Following the promulgation at the end of 2001 of the necessary legal and technical standards (Part 7 and Annex F of the Administrative Instructions Under the PCT [PDF]) to enable the electronic filing of international applications under the PCT, the Trilateral Offices (the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office) and the International Bureau of WIPO have been working on creating compliant implementations.  As a result of the cooperation between the Trilateral Offices and the International Bureau, the possibility for users to be able to file applications with different receiving Offices using the same software is a reality. For example, PCT-SAFE and the EPO Online Filing software are harmonized and it is possible to file using either PCT-SAFE or the EPO Online Filing software with different receiving Offices.

 

Software Installation

 

Where can I get the software?

You can download it from our website.

 

How do I install PCT-SAFE?

Please follow the instructions. The target directory path (e.g. C:\PCT-SAFE) where PCT-SAFE is to be installed MUST NOT contain in its name any national characters (in particular, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian). PCT-SAFE is a stand-alone installation; it should not be installed over a network or on a shared drive. The Export/Import functionality of the PCT-SAFE File Manager should be used for the purposes of sharing data and the creation of data backup.

Note: The PCT-SAFE client software can be password protected. However, it is not possible for the PCT eServices Help Desk to recover lost or forgotten passwords.

 

What are the minimum system requirements?

  • Computer processor: 600MHz; available hard disk space: 1GB; RAM: 256 MB
  • Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader, from version 7.x, or other PDF viewer software
  • Internet connection (for the purposes of online transmission)
  • Browser (for requesting/retrieving WIPO Customer Certification Authority digital certificate): Internet Explorer (recommended versions 7.0 and 8.0) or Mozilla Firefox (recommended versions 3.6 and higher)
  • Floppy disk drive: 3 1/2 inch disk drive (for PCT-EASY request form data and abstract or, if accepted by the receiving Office, fully electronic applications)
  • CD or DVD writer and software (for fully electronic PCT-SAFE applications filed on physical medium and for saving PCT-EASY request form data and abstract, if accepted by the RO).

 

What operating systems does PCT-SAFE run on?

The PCT-SAFE Client software will run on Microsoft Windows® XP/Vista/7/8.

 

Do I need any other software with PCT-SAFE?

In order to view forms and documents as 'rendered for submission', you will need Adobe Acrobat or the free Adobe Reader, from version 7.x, or other PDF viewer software.

 

Preparing a PCT-SAFE Application

 

What is the difference between Demo mode and Production mode?

Production mode is reserved for preparing and filing real PCT applications.

When you start the File Manager in Demo mode, you can send test filings to the demo server of the RO/IB (and other receiving Offices, provided that the receiving Office selected has such an option available). The e-filing receipt also displays the word "Demo". For further details please see our brief Demo filing guide.

As the data bases for the two modes are separate, forms and the address book created in one mode are not accessible in the other mode. Export/Import functionality should be used to share data if you use the two modes.

 

What file formats are required in electronic filing?

The acceptable electronic document formats depend on the receiving Office (see the table for details).  

The receiving Office at WIPO (RO/IB) has specified the following as to electronic document formats (Section 710(a)(i) of the Administrative Instructions [PDF]):

  •  XML (in general; see Annex F, section 3.1.1.1)

  •  WIPO Standard ST.25 (for sequence listings; see Annex F, section 3.1.1.2 and Annex C)

  •  PDF (for files that are referenced by XML files within the international application; see Annex F, section 3.1.2)

  •  TIFF (for files that are referenced by XML files within the international application; see Annex F, section 3.1.3.1)

PCT-SAFE applications may also contain a mix of documents: the text part in XML and drawings attached as a PDF or TIFF attachment (which still entitles you to the highest fee reduction as it is the format of the text that determines the reduction).

 

Is it possible to file fully electronic applications in non-Latin languages with RO/IB?

WIPO's receiving Office accepts PCT applications in any language. However, for the time being, the receiving server is not able to correctly generate a filing receipt containing non-Latin characters, e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Korean or Russian. Therefore, if the request form is in one of these languages, the filing receipt will be in English, and the applicant's name and the title of invention appear as # signs on the receipt. This behavior does not affect the filing itself. We would nevertheless recommend that you contact the RO/IB to make sure that the application is in order.

Please also note that when you prepare fully electronic applications in languages using non-Latin alphabet, the file names of the text and drawing attachments, whether PDF or XML format, should be in Latin alphabet characters. 

 

How do I prepare the PCT/RO/101 Electronic Request form?

For instructions on the different filing modes, including filing with RO/US and RO/CA, please see the detailed user guides at our User documentation and training tools page.
 

Some useful advice:

  • As a safeguard to conversion errors, it is possible to attach the application documents in their pre-conversion format.  This option is available on the Contents page/Accompanying items.  Select "Pre-converted documents" from the drop-down list, click Add and then double-click to navigate and attach files in their original format, e.g. as Word documents.  As for other Accompanying items, there is no charge for including the pre-conversion documents in the application.
  • In many cases it can be preferable to use digital libraries, e.g. the Priority Document Access Service (DAS), for making priority documents available to selected participating Offices.

 

What is a basic signature versus an enhanced signature and when do I use them?

Below is a table defining each signature type and the corresponding signature requirements by document type.

 

 

Type of filing

Fully electronic

PCT-EASY

Signature Type

Signature format

Example

Online

Physical media

Basic electronic signatures

Text string signature (Alphabetical)

/janedoe/

Request

Original separate power of attorney

Declaration of Inventorship

Request

Original separate power of attorney

Declaration of Inventorship

Not applicable

Facsimile signature

A TIFF file containing a bitmap of the signature.

The TIFF file must meet the requirements as described in section 3.1.3.1 in Annex F of the Administrative Instructions Under the PCT.

Request

Original separate power of attorney

Declaration of Inventorship

Request

Original separate power of attorney

Declaration of Inventorship

Not applicable

Enhanced electronic signature

 

A PKI and a PKCS #7 digital signature data type.

Request*

Package (WASP)

Not required

Not applicable

Ink signature

 

 

 

 

All paper documents which must be signed.

(e.g. Request, Declaration of Inventorship, Original separate power of attorney, etc…)

* Only one signatory can sign the request form using a digital certificate as such an enhanced electronic signature finalizes the procedure. If other signatories wish to sign the request, they may do so using basic electronic signatures before an enhanced signature is applied.

 

How can I preview and print my PCT application?

You can preview and print the request form at any time by selecting File>Preview or File>Print from the Request screen.

After the text and drawing documents have been attached in electronic form, viewing and printing options are immediately available on the Content details page.

When applications are in the Drafts, Ready to sign, Ready to submit or Submitted folders, it is also possible to view and print them in PDF format.  Select the option "By document"  from the "View" pull-down menu in the top right  corner of the PCT-SAFE File Manager. All applications are listed and it is possible to expand the application by clicking on the + sign next to the file reference, to view and print all documents.

If you use the PCT-EASY mode, the software will produce a request form printout as part of the submission procedure.

 

Submitting a Fully Electronic PCT-SAFE Application

 

Is it possible to file applications any time of the day?

The e-filing server at  the RO/IB is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  An application completely received  before midnight (Central European time) will be assigned that date as the date of receipt. (See PCT Rule 80.5 and 80.7.)  Every effort will be made to carry out maintenance work and upgrades to the server during the morning in Geneva.

Please see the information on the availability of online filing systems and back-up filing procedures.

 

How will I know that my electronic application was safely received?

Once the receiving Office server has established that the entire application package was received, it  promptly transmits a receipt to the applicant, confirming the names of electronic files received, as well as the application number and the time and date of receipt.  Upon receipt of an electronic application, the server performs several validation checks on the package and will send an error message if a problem is detected.

   

How do I file a fully electronic application on physical media?

Save your application on a CD-R, DVD-R or a diskette (physical media types depend on the receiving Office selected). The medium chosen should be clearly labelled with the following indications: the name of each applicant, title of the invention, file reference, date of creation of the physical medium, if multiple media are used also an indication of the document type, e.g. backup copy. Each physical medium must be accompanied by a transmittal letter on paper.  This information and further details can be found in Appendix IV of Annex F [PDF] of the Administrative Instructions Under the PCT.  In case of filing with RO/IB, please send your application to 34, chemin des Colombettes, P.O. Box 18, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland.

 

Certificates & Security

 

Is online filing safe?

To securely transmit international applications over the Internet, PCT-SAFE software relies on proven Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology which is widely employed to conduct financial and other e-commerce transactions. PCT-SAFE software ensures safe transmission of applications employing digital certificates, digital signatures and data encryption.

PCT applications are digitally signed before transmission to a receiving Office server. A digital signature is a virtually non-forgeable transformation of data that permits, when used in conjunction with a digital certificate,  verification of the origin and integrity of that data. Data encryption is carried out using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to ensure the confidentiality of the transmission. SSL also provides authentication services that automatically verify the party receiving the application data is valid, using digital certificates. Receiving Office servers also encrypt all information they transmit back to the applicant. 

The same requirements of authentication, integrity, confidentiality and non-repudiation also apply to the storage of electronically submitted applications.

 

How do I obtain a WIPO digital certificate?

You can apply for a WIPO Customer Certification Authority (CA) certificate in an simple online transaction through the Certificates page where you will also find User guides that explain how to enroll, import and use a certificate.  Please note that a certificate can only be issued for an individual and NOT in the name of a company. Certificate requests are processed during the PCT eServices  Help Desk opening hours, on WIPO working days.

 

Can I use a digital certificate obtained from another Office/Authority?

In most cases it is possible to use certificates granted by any certification authority whose certificate is recognized in accordance with the PCT electronic filing standard and accepted by the chosen receiving Office. Please check with your receiving Office as to accepted certification authorities, or consult our table on e-filing receiving Offices.

 

What can I do if: I forgot my WIPO certificate password -  I cannot access my digital certificate - I believe my digital certificate was compromised?

Revoke your certificate as soon as possible through the Certificates page.  You can then apply for a new digital certificate.

 

Can I file an application without using a digital certificate?

Yes, this may be acceptable when you submit your application on physical media, i.e. CD-R or DVD-R, but please verify the requirements of your receiving Office. A digital certificate is mandatory to submit your application online over the Internet.

 

Can I use my digital certificate on more than one computer?

Same computer and internet browser must be used for certificate enrollment and pick up. However, after you have retrieved and exported/backed up your certificate from the browser, it can be installed on as many computers as necessary.

 

Can others use my digital certificate?

The digital certificate is assigned to one individual and must be used by that person only. Please refer to the Subscriber Agreement (when enrolling for a certificate) on the Certificates page.

 

Next Steps

 

Is it possible to file electronically documents other than the application itself?

PCT-SAFE can be used only for filing international applications; there is no functionality for submitting documents after filing (although it is possible to generate powers of attorney and declarations after filing an application). WIPO's ePCT service can be used to submit documents to WIPO's receiving Office RO/IB and to the International Bureau IB. A certain number of documents can also be filed for transmission to other Authorities (see user guide on the login page).

 

Help Desk and Support

 

Where can I find support?

For any questions, please contact the PCT eServices Help Desk. The Help Desk is available Monday to Friday from 9:00 until 18:00 Central European Time and every attempt will be made to respond to queries within one business day. This includes the services of the WIPO Certification Authority.

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