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FAQ: enquiries about the processing of files

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Answers

What is the new procedure for filing enquiries as to the processing of files?

All enquiries must be filed online using EPO Form 1012. A separate enquiry must be submitted for each application/patent concerned.


Why has the procedure been changed?

The procedure has been changed with a view to providing users with a better service. It now includes a dedicated online filing tool and enhanced monitoring of the time frame indicated in the reply.

Will I receive a confirmation of receipt of my enquiry?

Yes, the EPO issues a prompt acknowledgement of receipt for each enquiry.

Does the filing of an enquiry generally lead to an acceleration of the prosecution of the application?

No, the filing of an enquiry does not generally result in the acceleration of the prosecution of a European patent application.

When replying to enquiries, the EPO normally indicates the period within which the next Office action is to be expected, taking into account the workload in the technical area concerned and the internal deadline for completion of the pending action. Every effort is then made to produce the communication within the period indicated in the reply.

There are, however, some cases in which an enquiry will automatically cause the EPO to issue the next action within a specific period of time:

  • Where the extended/partial European search report in respect of European patent applications filed on or after 1 June 2014 (including PCT applications entering the European phase where the EPO did not act as (S)ISA) has not been issued, under ECfS, within six months from the filing date or from expiry of the period under Rule 161(2) EPC, the EPO will issue the next action within one month of receipt of the enquiry.
  • Where an Office action in respect of an application which is being processed under the PACE programme or for which a previous enquiry has been made has not been performed within the committed period, the EPO will issue the next action within one month of receipt of the enquiry.
  • Where the extended/partial European search report in respect of European patent applications (including PCT applications entering the European phase where the EPO did not act as (S)ISA) filed before 1 June 2014 and which do claim priority (second filings) has not been issued, the EPO will issue the next action within six months of receipt of the enquiry.

What can I do if I am not satisfied with the time frame indicated in the reply to my enquiry?

If you are not satisfied with the time frame indicated in the reply to your enquiry, you can accelerate the prosecution of your application by requesting application of the PACE programme.

When does the new procedure enter into force?

The new procedure applies to enquiries filed on or after 1 November 2016.

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