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Guidelines for Examination

 
 
9.1.3
Languages of the documents cited 

Frequently, members of the same patent family are published in a number of different languages. Consequently, the examiner has a choice regarding the language of the document which is cited in the search report. If the relevant technical content does not differ between the various family members and they are all published before the earliest priority date of the application, then all of the members of the family are of equal relevance to the application. In such cases, the examiner should choose the document to be cited by virtue of its language of publication and according to the following list, the most preferred language being given first:

(1)
an official language of the EPO (i.e. English, French or German (Art. 14(1));
(2)
an official language of a Contracting State of the EPC according to Art. 14(4) (see A-VII, 1.1). Such documents can usually be read by a colleague if the examiner in question is not familiar with this language (see B-VI, 6.2);
(3)
a language other than any of those of the Contracting States of the EPC.

In the cases (2) and (3), the examiner might consider citing an abstract in an official language of the EPO, instead of the original document.

If the original document is in a less "accessible" language (e.g. JapaneseChinese or Russian), it is best to cite the abstract. In cases where it is possible to obtain an automated translation of certain patent documents into an official language of the EPO (e.g. Japanese Russian patents from the JPO Russian website), the examiner may choose to annex that translation to the search opinion (see B-X, 12, and G-IV, 4).