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EPO databases now include US citations earlier in the patent granting procedure. Previously citations were only available with the publication of the granted patent. Now, not only will the EPO receive the citation data prior to grant, but the data will also be more complete since the citations for published applications withdrawn before grant will also be available.
For publication US2011/259225, the citation US6857370 which is indicated in the "Notice of References Cited" dated 16 November 2011 will be available directly into the examiner's search tools and retrievable in Espacenet.
These citations correspond to those mentioned in the action "Notice of References Cited" (USPTO form 892) when using the USPTO file wrapper.
The new data goes back to 28 October 2011, and corresponds to a total of 180 000 actions including 900 000 citations. The citations will also be available in the Common Citation Document, the patent information tool consolidating prior art cited by all participating offices for the family members of a patent application.
The delivery of the citations allows US applicants to be exempted, under Rule 141(2) EPC, from the obligation of filing a copy of search results under Rule 141(1) EPC for secondary filling at the EPO.