Restrictions to file inspection 

Subsequent to the publication of the European patent application any person may inspect and obtain information from the files. Inspection of files and communication of information areis subject to the restrictions laid down in Rule 144 (see A‑XI, 2.1).

The parts of the file excluded from inspection are:

the documents relating to the exclusion of or objections to members of the boards of appeal or of the Enlarged Board of Appeal;
draft decisions and opinions, and all other documents used for the preparation of decisions and opinions, which are not communicated to the parties;
the designation of the inventor if he has waived his right to be mentioned as inventor under Rule 20(1);
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 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);
subject to Rule 94.2 and 94.3 PCT, the files relating to 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-IX, 2.10).

When a submission is to be excluded from file inspection only partially, only the parts or passages in question are excluded, while the rest of the submission remains public.

If it is decided that certain papers, either marked "confidential" or in view of the nature of their content, are not to be excluded from file inspection under Rule 144, they are returned to the sender (see T 516/89).

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