An international (PCT) application for which the EPO acts as designated Office or elected Office and which has been accorded an international date of filing is deemed to be a European patent application. Where an international (PCT) search report is already available, this will take the place of the European search report. The search division will draw up a supplementary European search report or a declaration replacing it according to Rule 63 unless provided otherwise in decisions of the Administrative Council.
However, the Administrative Council decides under what conditions and to what extent the supplementary European search report is to be dispensed with (see OJ EPO 2012, 212 and OJ EPO 2012, 219).
The (S)ISA/IPEA (other than the EPO) will have given opinions on the novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability of the claimed invention according to Art. 33(1) PCT and possibly also on unity of invention according to Art. 34(3) PCT and exclusions from international search/preliminary examination according to Art. 17(2) PCT/Art. 34(4) PCT. The search division for the supplementary European search report will consider these opinions but is free to digress from any or all of them when performing a supplementary European search and when preparing the search opinion (if applicable – see B‑XI, 7).
The search division can use the documents cited in the international search report in support of its findings (e.g. lack of novelty) in the search opinion (if applicable – see B‑XI, 7).