The EPO plans to launch a new service called “EPO Search for Life” for My Files/Mailbox users

This service will be accessible via smart card login in My Files/Mailbox to provide users with automated updates to EPO search reports previously created for European and international patent applications.

The new service will have four main functions:

  • search results update
  • citing documents
  • cited documents
  • extended citations.

Search results update 

This function will be available for any eligible patent application after completion of the search report. By automatically re-running the search strategy defined by the examiner, it will provide EPO Search for Life users with the prior-art documents that were not available for a given application during the search stage. The aim is to provide the user with a set of documents that is as close as possible to the one the EPO examiner receives for consideration on the examination starting date.

Access to electronic copies of the documents or, where copyright restrictions apply, references to these documents will be provided. This function will also give users the possibility of formatting the bibliographic data for these documents to facilitate their filing in other jurisdictions that require disclosure statements.

Documents provided by the Search results update function will not have been previously analysed by the examiner. Their relevance in relation to the given application will still have to be assessed. 

Citing documents

This function will allow EPO Search for Life users to access a list of patent applications whose search reports cite the given application or members of its patent family, thereby making them aware of potential licensing opportunities and further developments in a specific technical field.

Cited documents  

This function will allow EPO Search for Life users to review the documents cited in search reports drawn up by patent offices other than the EPO for the patent family members of a given application. Access to electronic copies of these documents or, where copyright restrictions apply, references to these documents will be provided.

This function will also give users the possibility of formatting the bibliographic data for these documents to facilitate their filing in other jurisdictions that so require.

EPO Search for Life will feature an option that will allow users to receive notifications via Mailbox/MyFiles whenever new documents become available. 

Extended citations   

Based on the system used by EPO examiners to establish a new application's technical context by making several iterations of the search results for a given application and its patent family members, the Extended citations function will select and list the documents likely to be the most relevant from a technical perspective.

These documents can be sorted by geographical area, by technical class or by date to provide users with a clear view of the technology landscape associated with their applications. This may be useful to start a freedom-to-operate search or for exploring potential licensing opportunities.

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