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Guidelines for Examination

 
 

2.3 Carrying out the search; types of documents

The examiner should then carry out the search, directing his attention to documents relevant for novelty and inventive step.

He should also note any documents that may be of importance for other reasons, such as:

(i)
conflicting documents (see B‑VI, 4) which are:
(a)
published European applications under Art. 54(3) (see G‑IV, 5.1 and 5.1.1);
(b)
published international applications under Art. 54(3) and Art. 153(3) and (5) (see G‑IV, 5.2);
(c)
published national applications of EPC Contracting States under Art. 139(2) (see G‑IV, 6 and H‑III, 4.5);
(d)
any document published during the priority interval of the application which may be relevant under Art. 54(2) in case of a non-valid priority date.

When published within the priority interval of the application under search, these applications are cited in the search report as "P" documents (see B‑X, 9.2.4); when published after the European or international filing date, they are cited in the search report as "E" documents (see B‑X, 9.2.6);

(ii)
documents putting doubt upon the validity of any priority claimed (see B‑VI, 3 and F‑VI, 1.4.1), which are cited in the search report as "L" documents (see B‑X, 9.2.8(a));
(iii)
documents contributing to a better or more correct understanding of the claimed invention, which are cited in the search report as "T" documents (see B‑X, 9.2.5);
(iv)
documents illustrating the technological background, which are cited in the search report as "A" documents (see B‑X, 9.2.2);
(v)
European patent applications having the same filing or priority date as the application in respect of which the search is carried out, from the same applicant and relating to the same invention and therefore relevant to the issue of double patenting (see G‑IV, 5.4), which are cited in the search report as "L" documents (see B‑X, 9.2.8 (c));
(vi)
documents indicating or establishing the publication date of a document drawn from the internet (see G‑IV, 7.5), which are cited in the search report as "L" documents (see B‑X, 9.2.8 (b)); and
(vii)
documents retrieved from the internet which do not have any publication date but which the examiner nonetheless wants to cite to inform the applicant or third parties (see G‑IV, 7.5.4), which are also cited as "L" documents (see B‑X, 9.2.8).

However, he should not spend a significant amount of time in searching for these documents, nor in the consideration of such matters unless there is a special reason for doing so in a particular case (see B‑VI, 5.3 and B‑XI, 4).