Extent of file inspection 

Inspection of the files of European patent applications and of European patents is granted in respect of the original documents or of copies thereof or, if the files are stored on other media, in respect of these media. All parts of the file compiled when conducting the examination, opposition and appeal procedure with the parties are open for inspection, subject to the restrictions mentioned below (see A-XI, 2.3). It also includes information on the dates of the start of search and examination, any invitations under Rule 63(1) or Rule 62a(1) and the search opinion if applicable.

Observations by third parties (Art. 115) are an integral part of the files and as such are open to inspection in accordance with Art. 128. If a third party asks that his observations or a part thereof be treated confidentially, that request cannot be granted and the third party will be notified accordingly (see E-VI, 3).

The parts of the file excluded from inspection are:

Art. 128(4)

the documents relating to the exclusion of or objections to members of the Boards of Appeal or of the Enlarged Board of Appeal;

Rule 144(a)

draft decisions and opinions, and all other documents, used for the preparation of decisions and opinions, which are not communicated to the parties;

Rule 144(b)

the designation of the inventor if he has waived his right to be mentioned as inventor under Rule 20(1);

Rule 144(c)

any other document excluded from inspection by the President of the EPO on the ground that such inspection would not serve the purpose of informing the public about the European patent application or the resulting patent. These documents include documents relating to file inspection and requests for accelerated search and accelerated examination under the "PACE" programme (see the Decision of the President of the EPO dated 12 July 2007, Special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, J.3);

Rule 144(d)

subject to Rules 94.2 PCT and Rule 94.3 PCT, the files of the international preliminary examination for a Euro-PCT application in respect of which the EPO is the international preliminary examining authority and for which an international preliminary examination report has not yet been established (see OJ EPO 2003, 382; see also E‑VIII, 2.10).

Art. 38(1) PCT

Rule 94 PCT

The parts of the file excluded from inspection (see A-XI, 2.3) are kept separate in the files from those open to inspection.

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