Establishing the ISR and the WO‑ISA 
For every international application the EPO as ISA issues either an International Search Report (ISR) or, in exceptional cases, a "Declaration of Non-Establishment of International Search Report" (see point 3.3.003), and a Written Opinion of the International Searching Authority (WO‑ISA).
The procedure for establishing the ISR and the WO‑ISA is similar to that for establishing the European search report and the European Search Opinion (ESOP). 
The WO‑ISA provides the applicant with a preliminary non-binding written opinion on the question whether the claimed invention appears to be novel, to involve an inventive step and to be industrially applicable. A WO‑ISA established by the EPO as ISA will be comparable to the written opinion established by the EPO for a Euro-direct application (ESOP) (see point 3.2.002).
Where appropriate, the WO‑ISA will also provide an opinion on issues such as added subject-matter, unity of invention, insufficiency of disclosure, support for the claims in the description, clarity, conciseness and formal defects (e.g. missing reference signs). 
The WO‑ISA may be positive or negative. A WO‑ISA is qualified as positive if it contains no objections or only minor objections which would not prevent a direct grant in the European phase. In any other case the WO‑ISA is considered negative (see point 3.2.013).
The ISR is established within three months from receipt of the search copy at the EPO as ISA or within nine months from the earliest priority date, whichever time limit expires later. 
WIPO PCT Guide 7.023 
The WO‑ISA is established at the same time as the ISR. Both documents are sent to the applicant and the IB. The applicant also receives a copy of each document cited in the ISR. 
As from 1 January 2018, an information sheet ("Information on Search Strategy") is annexed to all search reports drawn up by the EPO under both the PCT and EP procedures. This information sheet contains details about the databases and keywords used by examiners to retrieve the relevant prior art, as well as the classification symbols defining the extent of the search. Information sheets are made available via file inspection on WIPO's PATENTSCOPE and in the European Patent Register upon publication of the search report. 
If the EPO acted as ISA (but not as IPEA), the applicant must provide a substantive response to any deficiencies set out in the WO‑ISA ("negative WO‑ISA") upon entry into the European phase ("mandatory response"). 
For more information on the "mandatory response" see points 5.4.025 ff.

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