European search report - Guide for applicants: How to get a European patent, How to get – a European patent, D. The European patent grant procedure, II. Procedure up to publication of the application
European search report
As soon as the initial formal examination is concluded, the European search is initiated. The EPO strives to issue the European search report within six months of the filing of the application (see Annex II, point 8).
The search report serves to provide information on the relevant prior art to the applicant, to the examining division and, by means of its publication, to the public. 
The search report is drawn up on the basis of the claims, with due regard to the description and any drawings. It mentions the prior-art documents available to the EPO when it is drawn up which may be taken into consideration in assessing novelty and inventive step. 
Guid. B‑X
The search report is accompanied by an opinion on whether the application and the invention to which it relates meet the requirements of the EPC. 
The opinion is not issued if you have paid the fee for examination and waived your right to receive the communication under Rule 70(2) EPC (see point 158) before the search report has been communicated to you. In this situation you will receive a first communication from the examining division instead.
Guid. B‑XI, 7
The non-binding opinion is not published together with the search report but is available to the public by way of file inspection after publication of the application. 
If the application contains more than one independent claim in the same category (see point 85) and none of the exceptions listed under Rule 43(2) applies, you will be invited to indicate, within a two-month period, the basis on which the search is to be carried out. If you fail to do so, the search will be carried out on the basis of the first independent claim in each category.
Similarly, if it is impossible to carry out a meaningful search on the basis of all or some of the subject-matter claimed, you will be invited to file, again within a two-month period, a statement indicating the subject-matter to be searched. Should your statement not be sufficient to overcome the deficiency, the EPO will issue a partial search report or a declaration that no meaningful search can be carried out. 
You should note that, in response to such an invitation for clarification, you may not amend the application documents. 
When the examining division assumes responsibility, it will invite you to delete the unsearched subject-matter from the application unless it finds that the objection was unjustified. 
Immediately after it has been drawn up, the European search report is transmitted to you together with copies of any cited documents. If you require a second copy of the cited documents, you can tick the appropriate box in the request for grant form (refer to section 39 of the request for grant) when filing the application. The request is valid only if the prescribed administrative fee is paid. 
After receiving the search report, you may withdraw the application if you think it has no chance of success. If you decide to pursue the patent grant procedure (see point 155), you will, in the next step, be invited to pay the examination fee, if you have not yet done so, or to declare that you wish to proceed further with the application. At the same time you are invited to file a reply to any objections raised in the search opinion within the same time limit (see points 155 et seq.).

Quick Navigation