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Guidelines for Examination

 
 
4.1.4
Deficiencies 

If the EPO (Receiving Section) notes either of the following deficiencies:

Rule 40(1)(a) - no indication that a European patent is sought, or
Rule 40(1)(c) - no description or reference to an earlier application,

either of which prevents the application being accorded a date of filing, it communicates this to the applicant and invites him to remedy it within a non-extendable period of two months of notification of the communication. If the applicant does not remedy the deficiency in due time he is informed that the application will not be dealt with as a European application. Any fees which have been paid are refunded.

In the event that the information concerning the applicant is missing or does not enable the EPO to contact him (a deficiency according to Rule 40(1)(b)), no such communication is sent. However, if the applicant corrects this deficiency of his own motion within two months of the date of receipt of the original documents, then the date of filing is the date on which all requirements of Rule 40 are met. If the requirements of Rule 40 are not met at the end of this period, the application will not be dealt with as a European application and the applicant will have to re-file all documents relating to the purported European application.

Filing by reference to a previous application 

Where the application is filed by reference to a previously filed application and the EPO (Receiving Section) notes that any of the following information is missing:

(i)
the filing date of the previous application 
(ii)
its file number 
(iii)
the office where it was filed 
(iv)
an indication that this reference replaces the description and any drawings 

then it proceeds as above and invites the applicant to remedy the deficiency within a two-month time limit (Rule 55). If the applicant does not remedy the deficiencies in due time, the application is not treated as a European application.

If the applicant does not provide the certified copy of the previously filed application within two months of filing the application (Rule 40(3)) and this is not already available to the EPO (see A-II, 4.1.3.1), then he will also be sent a communication according to Rule 55, requesting him to file it within a non-extendable period of two months. If the applicant does not provide the certified copy in due time, the application is also not treated as a European application. Where a translation of the application is also required and this is not provided within the above time limit, the procedure given in A-III, 14 is followed. The filing date is unaffected by a missing translation.