Frequently, members of the same patent family are published in a number of different languages. Consequently, the search division has a choice regarding the language of the document which is cited in the search report. If the relevant technical content does not differ between the various family members and they are all published before the earliest priority date of the application, then all of the members of the family are of equal relevance to the application. In such cases, the search division chooses the document to be cited by virtue of its language of publication and according to the following list, the most preferred language being given first:
(1) an official language of the EPO (i.e. English, French or German (Art. 14(1));
(2) an official language of a contracting state of the EPC according to Art. 14(4) (see A‑VII, 1.1). Such documents can usually be read by a colleague if the member of the search division in question is not familiar with this language (see B‑VI, 6.2);
(3) a language other than any of those of the contracting states of the EPC.
In cases (2) and (3), the search division might consider citing an abstract in an official language of the EPO, instead of the original document.
If the original document is in a less "accessible" language (e.g. Chinese or Russian), it is best to cite the abstract. In some cases it is possible to obtain an automated translation of certain patent documents into an official language of the EPO. If the search division relies on this translation in the search opinion, the translation will be sent made available to the applicant by annexing a copy of the automated translation to the search opinion (see B‑X, 12 and G‑IV, 4).
Alternatively, if only a specific paragraph of the translation is needed, the search division may copy the translation of that paragraph into the search opinion instead of annexing making available the entire translation. Note, however, that where a full translation was available during search, this full translation will normally be sent made available to the applicant.
Non-official translations (i.e. translations having no legal value) of publications in "less accessible" languages will not be cited in the search report.