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Guidelines for Examination

 
 

5. Requesting information on prior art (not confined to priority)

The EPO may invite the applicant to submit, within a period of two months, information on prior art which has been taken into consideration in national or regional patent proceedings concerning an invention to which the European patent application relates. This in particular encompasses search results with respect to filings whose priority is not being claimed, and it also enables the EPO to request, inter alia, the copy of the results of the search on the priority or priorities referred to in Rule 141(1), where the search results were not available to the applicant when requested under Rule 70b(1) (see the Notice from the EPO dated 28 July 2010, OJ EPO 2010, 410). Failure on the part of the applicant to comply with this invitation results in the application being deemed to be withdrawn under Art. 124(2). Further processing is available for this loss of rights (see E‑VII, 2.1).

In view of the considerable work such invitations may imply for applicants, further requests under Rule 141(3) will be issued only in individual cases, where there are cogent reasons to suspect the existence of additional, relevant prior art.

This invitation is an independent communication, and the above-mentioned time limit is non-extendable. The invitation can be sent by itself or at the same time as a communication according to Art. 94(3). If sent at the same time, the time limits set in both communications are independent of one another. Any information on prior art provided by the applicant will be included in the file and will be open to file inspection (see A‑XI).