Applicants may request to have their international application processed under the PCT Direct service by filing a letter ("PCT Direct letter") containing informal comments aimed at overcoming objections raised in the search opinion established by the EPO for the priority application. The earlier application from which priority is claimed must have been searched by the EPO (international, European or national first filing, but not an international-type search).
The PCT Direct letter is to be presented as a separate document attached to the international application; it should be entitled "PCT Direct/informal comments" and clearly identify in the header the application number of the earlier application. The PCT Direct letter does not form part of the international application.
If the claims and/or the description of the international application differ from the earlier application, preferably a marked-up copy indicating the differences should be submitted. A copy of the earlier search opinion could also be annexed to the PCT Direct letter. It should be borne in mind that the letter, together with the annexed documents, will be made available to the public in accordance with the provisions on file inspection.
The PCT Direct letter, any marked-up copy of the claims and/or description, as well as the earlier search opinion, if annexed, are to be submitted as a single document in PDF (not as a ZIP file) and indicated in Box IX of the PCT request form (Form PCT/RO/101). In particular, the words "PCT Direct/informal comments" should be specified under point 11, "other", for filings on paper. When filing in electronic form using the EPO Online Filing software, the PCT Direct letter needs to be attached as an accompanying item "Applicant letter to ISA concerning earlier search ("PCT Direct")". For filings in electronic form using Online Filing 2.0 or WIPO's ePCT portal, the PCT Direct letter and any marked-up copy of the claims and/or description are to be uploaded under the section "International Search" – "Use of earlier search and classification results" – "Availability of document(s) to the ISA" – "Other document(s) attached" – "Add other Document" by selecting Document Type "Applicant letter to ISA concerning earlier search ("PCT Direct")". Irrespective of the online filing software used, the correct document is automatically reflected in the generated XML and PDF, which show in section IX-10 the PCT Direct letter as an attachment under "Other".
Informal comments filed under PCT Direct must be self-contained. Third parties must be able to fully understand these comments as they stand. If explicit references are made to the search opinion for the first filing, that search opinion should be annexed to the international application. The reason for this requirement is that the search report, the search opinion or any other submissions that are part of the file of the earlier application may not be publicly available.