A telephone conversation can take place at the initiative of either the applicant or the examiner.
When an applicant wishes to enquire about an application, EPO 1Line Customer Services (1LCS) is usually the first point of contact. 1LCS informs the appropriate department of the enquiry, and that department will contact the applicant as soon as possible to follow it up.
Typical situations in which applicants telephone the EPO are:
the applicant wishes to make an enquiry about a procedural issue, such as how to proceed in particular circumstances (note however that the examiner is not normally in charge of formal issues, such as extensions of time limits and payment of fees);
there appears to be an error in the communication or in the applicant's reply which makes it difficult for the applicant or the examiner to prepare the next reply/communication (e.g. wrong document cited, communication based on wrong set of claims, new submissions referred to but not included).
Typical situations in which examiners may consider it appropriate to call the applicant are:
it appears that there is confusion about certain points in dispute, e.g. the applicant seems to have misunderstood the arguments of the examiner or vice versa, so that the written procedure does not lead anywhere;
the application seems to be ready for grant except that the examiner needs to clarify some minor issues with the applicant or would like to discuss a proposal for amendments to overcome the objections raised;
amendments/corrections requested by the applicant after the Rule 71(3)
communication have been submitted but the examiner cannot agree to the request.
Enquiries as to the processing of files must be filed online using the dedicated request form (EPO Form 1012) (see the Notice from the EPO dated 2 August 2016, OJ EPO 2016, A66). Requests filed informally, i.e. without using the dedicated form, by telephone and/or on paper will not be processed by the EPO (see E-VIII, 7).