This revised version of the Guidelines for Examination will apply as from 1 November 2015. Until then, the September 2014 edition of the Guidelines remains valid.

2.4 Reformulation of the subject of the search

The examiner should continuously evaluate the results of his search, and if necessary reformulate the subject of the search accordingly. For example, the selection of the classification units to be searched or the order of searching them may also require alteration during the search as a consequence of intermediate results obtained. The examiner should also use his judgement, taking into account results obtained, in deciding at any time during the systematic search whether he should approach the search documentation in some different manner, e.g. by consulting:

documents cited in relevant documents produced by the search, for example cited in the description or search report of a patent document; or 
documents citing a relevant document produced by the search, 

or whether he should turn to documentation outside that which is available to the Search Divisions in-house (see B‑IX). When searching external document collections for material in relation to unpublished subject-matter using other than secure connections, like the Internet, the examiner should be extremely careful when formulating search strategies so as not to unwittingly reveal confidential material – i.e. any part of the unpublished patent application (see B‑III, 2.4).

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