The PCT procedure facilitates processing of applications for protection of inventions when this protection is sought for several countries, establishing a system whereby filing a single application has the same effect as if the application had been filed in each of the signatory countries of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) (136 on 1 January 2007).

Under this system, the procedure is started simultaneously in over 140 countries through a single application.

It is important to clarify that it is not a patent granting procedure, nor does it replace granting of national patents, but rather it is a system that unifies the processing prior to granting. Furthermore, this procedure allows you to "buy time", since you can delay your decision to enter the national phase for up to 30 months from the international or priority filing date, as applicable, and keep your invention secret for a minimum of 18 months, which can be useful for testing its feasibility and avoiding unnecessary expenses.

The SPTO acts as a receiving office for international PCT applications whose holders are Spanish or legal residents of Spain.

Spanish applicants, moreover, have an important advantage, as the SPTO is not only a Receiving Office but also an International Search and International Preliminary Examination Agency, which means that applicants can carry out all international patent-related procedures up to entry in the National Phase (month 30 from the priority date) in Spanish and in a user-friendly way.

This PCT channel allows electronic submission of applications, as well as the files containing the description, claims and drawings in PDF or XML format, using the PCT-Safe Editor program. Depending on the method used, significant discounts can be applied to the filing fees, so the SPTO recommends using the online filing method.

It should be noted that for certain countries classified by the World Bank as low, lower-middle- or upper-middle income and some Ibero-American countries, the SPTO offers discounts of up to 75% of the international search fee.