After the analysis referred to in B-XI, 3.1 to B-XI, 3.8 has been made, the Search Division may come to the conclusion that the application and the invention to which it relates both satisfy the requirements of the EPC. In this case the search opinion contains a statement giving a general positive opinion on the application documents. However, where it is not possible to conclude the search for all potentially conflicting applications according to Art. 54(3) at the time of the search (see B-VI, 4.1), a top-up search will have to be carried out in the examination procedure (see C-IV, 7.1) and subsequently objections according to Art. 54(3) will be raised if appropriate.
Where minor amendments of the application documents would be necessary for the application to proceed to grant, a positive search opinion can still be issued. Thereafter, subject to no prior art according to Art. 54(3) being found in any subsequent top-up search, the Rule 71(3) communication can then be issued in examination proceedings, with those minor amendments being proposed by the Examining Division according to C-V, 1.1.
In the above cases, the applicant is not required to respond to the search opinion (see B-XI, 8).
At the search stage, it is not possible to officially designate an Examining Division, since responsibility for the application lies with the Receiving Section (Art. 16). However, the prospective members of the Examining Division may already be indicated. Thereafter, the examiner should consult the other prospective members of the Examining Division to ensure that they agree to the issuing of a positive search opinion.