PCT National Phase vs. Bypass

When deciding to go to National Phase for a PCT application in the US, a question often asked is if it is better to file the application as a continuation of the PCT application (a bypass) or as a usual national phase application.

Costs: Filing a bypass application which has no more than 20 claims, 3 independent claims, no multiple dependent claims and less than 100 pages will cost $1600 as of today. Filing a national phase application of same type will cost $1480. So the fee difference is minimal.

Amending Application: If you want to amend the specification or claims to make any change besides a mere translation correction, you will have to file a preliminary amendment along with the national phase application. In a bypass application, you can merely amend the specification itself as long as no new matter is added.

What about my Article 19/34 Amendments? The PTO really prefers that you either file a preliminary amendment if you go National Phase rather than filing a translation of these amendments. If you file a bypass application you can just include these in your modified application.

102(e) treatment: Prior to AIA, a PCT application that was published in a language besides English was not given a 102(e) date. In other words, the PCT application could only be used as prior art as of its publication date. This was another drawback for going National Phase. However, AIA ends this, so this is not an issue any longer.

Processing Delays: This problem also has been more or less resolved lately, but until recently the Patent Office had a very long delay processing PCT applications to the point that it sometimes took 6 months just to get a filing receipt. In comparison, a filing receipt for a bypass application usually arrives within 10 days.

Generally, a bypass application is better for all practical purposes.