1. Request for examination
In order that examination of a European application can begin, applicants are required to file a request for examination, which, however, is not deemed to be filed until after the examination fee has been paid. The request for examination may be filed from the date on which the application is filed up to the end of six months after the date on which the European Patent Bulletin mentions the publication of the European search report (see A‑VI, 2.1). If the request for examination is not filed within this period, the application is deemed to be withdrawn. However, in such a case, applicants have the possibility of filing a request for further processing pursuant to Art. 121. The amount of the further processing fee to be paid depends on how many and which of the actions required for a valid request for examination have been omitted (see E‑VIII, 2). According to Rule 70(1), the request for examination may not be withdrawn.
Subject to certain exceptions, applicants must also respond to the search opinion within the above-mentioned period for filing the request for examination (see B‑XI, 9 and C‑II, 3.1), unless the EPO invites them to confirm an early request for examination according to Rule 70(2), in which case they must respond to the search opinion within the period provided for under Rule 70(2) (see C‑II, 1.1).
Responsibility for examining the application passes from the Receiving Section to the examining division at the time when a request for examination is filed. This is subject to two exceptions:
(i)if applicants have filed a request for examination before the European search report has been sent to them, then the examining division is responsible only from the time when the confirmation of the request is received by the EPO following an invitation under Rule 70(2);
(ii)if applicants have filed a request for examination before the European search report has been sent to them and have also waived the right to receive an invitation to confirm under Rule 70(2) (see C‑VI, 3), then the examining division is responsible only from the time when the search report is sent to the applicants.