General provisions governing the presentation of the application documents are to be found in R. 49 EPC. These include the requirement in R. 49(2) EPC that the documents making up the application shall be presented so as to allow electronic and direct reproduction in an unlimited number of copies. The application which was the subject of J 4/09 was rejected by the Receiving Section on the ground that it was in breach of this provision. The Legal Board of Appeal disagreed, observing, first of all, that the fact that the drawings had become part of the EPO's electronic file and did not differ noticeably from the filed versions went against the receiving section's view.
It went on to say that it was not part of the examination as to formal requirements to consider what precisely could be gathered from the drawings. Rather, it was the applicant who determined the scope of disclosure by selecting the application documents and their form, so that their informative value was his responsibility. An analysis going beyond the points to be examined on filing under R. 46 EPC and R. 49(1) EPC to R. 49(9) and (12) EPC was impermissible. In particular, it was not permissible for improved drawings to result in a disclosure which could not be found in the original version of the application; nor could the applicant be compelled to change the drawings and so sacrifice a disclosure which, in his view, could only take this form.