5. Survey of the processing of applications and patents at the EPO
The processing of a European application and of a European patent is carried out in a number of distinct steps which may be summarised as follows:
the application is filed with the EPO or a competent national authority;
the Receiving Section examines the application to determine if a date of filing can be accorded to the application;
the formal examination of the application is undertaken by the Receiving Section;
in parallel with the formal examination the Search Division draws up an EESR, a copy of which is forwarded to the applicant;
the application and the search report are published by the EPO either together or separately;
on receipt of a request from the applicant, or, if the request has been filed before the search report has been transmitted to the applicant, on confirmation by the applicant that he desires to proceed further with the European patent application, the application is subjected to a substantive examination and an examination of formalities necessary for grant by the Examining Division;
provided the requirements of the EPC are met, a European patent is granted for the States designated;
the specification of the European patent is published by the EPO;
any person may give notice of opposition to the European patent granted; after examining the opposition, the Opposition Division decides whether to reject the opposition, maintain the patent in amended form, or to revoke the patent;
the patent proprietor may request limitation or revocation of the granted patent; the Examining Division will decide whether this request is to be granted
if the European patent is amended, the EPO publishes a new specification of the European patent amended accordingly.
Any decision by an EPO first-instance department which adversely affects a party is subject to review before a Board of Appeal of the EPO. With the exception of matters of importance to the question of interlocutory revision, the appeals procedure is not dealt with in these Guidelines.