Subject to the final sentence of this paragraph, the designation of one or more Contracting States may be withdrawn by the applicant at any time up to the grant of the patent. Withdrawal of the designation of all the Contracting States results in the application being deemed to be withdrawn and the applicant is notified accordingly.
In neither case is the designation fee refunded. The designation of a Contracting State may not be withdrawn as from the time when a third party proves to the EPO that he has initiated proceedings concerning entitlement and up to the date on which the EPO resumes proceedings for grant.
The applicant may withdraw designations when filing the European application, for example to avoid overlapping prior national rights with the priority application according to Art. 139(3). Timely payment of the designation fee will not cause those designations which have been withdrawn to be re-activated.
For European divisional applications see A‑IV, 1.3.4.