Stages of the procedure 
Once you have filed the request for examination, the EPO examines, in the light of the search report, the preliminary opinion on patentability (search opinion) and your response to them, whether the application and the invention to which it relates meet the requirements of the Convention, and in particular whether the invention is patentable (see points 3.1.001-3.4.002).
After receiving the search report and before receiving the examiner's first communication, you must file substantive observations on any objections raised in the search opinion; you may also amend the description, claims and drawings (see points 5.4.005 and 5.4.018).
In exceptional situations where despite your reply to the search opinion no possibility of a grant can be envisaged, the examining division may issue a summons to oral proceedings as the first action in examination, with at least six months' notice. You may take the opportunity to submit any arguments and amendments by expiry of the deadline set with the summons. Should your submissions contain a genuine effort to overcome the examining division's objections, oral proceedings may be cancelled or postponed. Otherwise, a decision will be taken during the oral proceedings, even if you do not attend them. 
If the examiner responsible within the examining division has objections to the application, they will send you a first reasoned communication inviting you to file your observations and, if necessary, to submit amendments to the description, claims and drawings (see points 5.4.017-5.4.022).
If you fail to reply in due time to this or any further communication, the application is deemed to be withdrawn (but see point 5.10.007).
You might also be invited to provide information on prior art taken into consideration in the examination of national or regional patent applications and concerning an invention to which the European patent application relates. If you do not provide this information within a specified time limit, the application is deemed withdrawn (but see point 5.10.007). It is recommended that you file any search results relating to a previous application from which priority is claimed as soon as they are available (see point 4.1.019).
You must try to deal with all the examiner's objections, the guiding principle of the examination procedure being that the decision to grant a patent or refuse the application should be reached in as few actions as possible. 
If, after examining your response, the examiner considers that a patent cannot yet be granted, they will continue with the examination procedure by issuing a further written communication or consulting you by videoconference or, exceptionally, by telephone. 
A consultation may also be used as the first action replacing the first communication in examination under Article 94(3) and Rule 71(1), (2), provided that specific requirements are met, namely: (a) minutes are issued, (b) the minutes present the matters discussed with the same level of information and structure as a written communication from the examining division and (c) the time limit set for reply is not shorter than four months, unless agreed otherwise with the applicant.
You may at any time request oral proceedings. As a rule, oral proceedings before examining divisions are held by videoconference. 
Email is an admissible filing means only for the submission of subsequently filed documents during consultations and during oral proceedings. Other than in the aforementioned cases, email has no legal effect in proceedings under the EPC. 
The examiner may seek the advice of other members of the examining division whenever appropriate. The application will be referred to them at the latest when a decision has to be taken. 
If the examining division is of the opinion that a European patent cannot be granted, it will refuse the application. The decision is issued by the examining division as a whole, and the grounds of refusal must be stated. Refusals may be based only on grounds on which you have had an opportunity to comment. 
If the application and the invention to which it relates meet the requirements of the Convention, the examining division will proceed to the grant stage. 
The examining division informs you of the text in which it intends to grant the European patent, and invites you to pay the fee for grant and publishing and any claims fees for claims in excess of 15 which have not yet been paid, as well as to file a translation of the claims into the two official languages of the EPO other than the language of the proceedings within a non-extendable period of four months. You are also invited to verify the bibliographic data at this stage. 
If you pay the prescribed fees and file the necessary translations of the claims in due time, you are deemed to have approved the text intended for grant. If you do not respond to the invitation, the application is deemed to be withdrawn (but see point 5.10.007).
Upon reviewing the proposed text for grant, you may wish to make minor amendments, and/or you may discover mistakes. In that case you have an opportunity to file amendments or corrections within the period set under Rule 71(3) (see point 5.4.011). If the examining division consents to the amendments or corrections, it will issue a new communication under Rule 71(3). It can then proceed to grant, provided you have filed the translations of the claims and paid the fees for grant and publishing within the time limit set. If you file amendments or corrections and translations of the claims in due time, but do not pay the fees or file the translations, the application is deemed to be withdrawn (but see point 5.10.007).
If the examining division does not consent to the requested amendments or corrections, it will resume the examination proceedings. Depending on the circumstances of the individual case, the examining division may for example issue a communication under Article 94(3) and Rule 71(1), (2), summon you to oral proceedings or refuse the application.
If you fail to meet the objections raised, the examining division will refuse the application under Article 97(2) because it does not meet the requirements of the Convention. If you fail to pay the fee for grant and publishing or any claims fees due, the application is deemed to be withdrawn (but see point 5.10.007). If you have paid said fees but ultimately no patent is granted, the fee for grant and publishing will be refunded.
Before a patent can be granted, you must also have paid any renewal fee and, if applicable, any additional fee due (see point 5.9.001 et seq.). If a renewal fee falls due before the expected date of publication of the mention of grant of the European patent, you will be informed accordingly. The mention of grant will not be published until you have paid the renewal fee. If you fail to pay the renewal fee and any additional fee in due time, the application is deemed to be withdrawn.
If you overrun the period set under Rule 71, you may request further processing under Article 121 (see point 5.10.007).
The grant does not take effect until the date on which it is mentioned in the European Patent Bulletin. At the same time as it publishes this mention, the EPO publishes a European patent specification containing the description, the claims and any drawings. The European patent specification and the European Patent Bulletin are published electronically on the EPO's publication server (
If you have activated the Mailbox service, you will receive the certificate for a European patent as a digital file for download from the Mailbox. Otherwise, the certificate will be sent to you in paper form. If there is more than one proprietor, a certificate will be issued to each of them. Certified copies of the certificate with the specification annexed will be issued to the proprietor upon request and payment of an administrative fee. 

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