Information for PCT applicants concerning the procedure before the EPO as an International Searching Authority: Lack of unity of invention
1. Under Article 17(3)(a) and Rule 40.1 PCT, if the EPO in its capacity as International Searching Authority (ISA) considers that the international application does not comply with the requirement of unity of invention, it will invite the applicant to pay additional fees. The invitation specifies the reasons for which the international application is not considered to comply with this requirement and indicates the amount to be paid (Form PCT/ISA/206).
2. As from 1 January 1989, the EPO has introduced the practice of attaching to this invitation an annex (Form PCT/ISA/206-Annex) entitled "Notification concerning the result of the partial international search".
This annex aims to inform the applicant of the result of the international search carried out on the invention first mentioned in the claims ("main invention") of the international application.
If the applicant does not pay additional fees, the information appearing in the annex will be considered as the result of the international search and introduced as such into the international search report (Form PCT/ISA/210).
3. This new practice of the EPO in its capacity as ISA will result in a broadening of the scope of information given to the applicant when he is invited to pay additional fees and harmonisation with EPO practice of establishing a partial European search report under Rule 46 EPC. EPO practice shows that it is in the applicants' interest to be informed of the result of the search carried out for the "main invention" when deciding whether to pay additional fees.