How to use the advanced search interface for board of appeal decisions

The following text is partly adapted from Google resources.

Getting started

To search for a document, type search terms into the search box and press the Enter key or click the Search button. A results page appears with a list of documents and pages that are related to your search terms, with the most relevant search results appearing at the top of the page. By default, only pages that include all of your search terms are returned. So, if you want to broaden your search, use fewer terms. Conversely, to narrow your search, include more terms. You do not need to include "and" between the terms.

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Wherever appropriate, we have included tooltips to explain how to use a search field or a checkbox. Just hover your mouse over the "i". For example the tooltip for the search field "Case number" looks like this:

tooltip example Case type

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Search term examples

An example of the expected syntax is shown above the search field, on the right. The search engine is not case-sensitive (i.e. it does not distinguish between lower case h and upper case H). The following example shows how an IPC code should be entered:

IPC search term syntax

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Searches are not case-sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you enter them, are handled as lower case. For example, searches for "European Patent Convention", "European patent convention" and "european patent convention" return the same results.

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The collection contains documents in three languages: English, French and German. The search engine is tolerant regarding the use of diacritics. For example, it will accept "Partikelgroesse" and find documents with "Partikelgröße". Similarly, the search term "tete" will find documents containing "tête". The following table shows which diacritics can be replaced by which characters:

 Diacritics Replacement characters
 ß  ss
 ä  ae
 à  a
 á  a
 â  a
 ç  c
 é  e
 è  e
 ë  e
 ê  e
 î  i
 ï  i
 ö  oe
 ô  o
 ü  ue
 û  u

You may get a better search service (for example, suggestions for other search terms) if you use the French search interface for French terms, the German search interface for German terms and the English search interface for English terms. You can switch interfaces by using the links "Deutsch English Français" at the top right of the page.

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Date sorting

By default, search results are sorted by relevance, with the most relevant result appearing at the top of the page. If you want to sort the documents by date instead, click the "Sort by date" link. The most recent document then appears at the top of the page. Results that do not contain dates are displayed at the end and are sorted by relevance.

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Widening your search

You can expand your search by using the OR operator. To retrieve pages that include either word A or word B, use an uppercase OR between terms.

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Refining your search

Since the search engine returns only web pages that contain all of the words in your query, refining (or narrowing) your search is as simple as adding more words to the search terms you have already entered. The refined query returns a subset of the pages that were returned by your original broad query. If that does not get the results that you want, you can try to exclude words, search for exact phrases, or restrict the search to a range of numbers.

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Excluding words

If your search term has more than one meaning, you can focus your search by placing a NOT in front of words related to the meaning you want to avoid. A search for "water NOT communication NOT purification" will exclude documents containing the words "communication" and "purification". 

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Phrase searches

You can search for an exact phrase or name by enclosing it in quotation marks. The search engine then only returns documents that include the exact phrase or name you entered.

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Proximity searches

If you use the NEAR between words in your query, documents where those words are close together will appear at the top of the result list. 

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The search engine assumes a wildcard at the beginning and end of a search term.  A search for "partic" will return documents containing "nanoparticulate", "microparticles" and "nanoparticles"

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Searching for specific case types

By default, all the available board of appeal case types are selected and will be part of the search results matching your query. These case types are:

  • G: Enlarged Board of Appeal
  • T: Technical boards of appeal
  • J: Legal Board of Appeal
  • W: PCT protest procedure
  • R: Petitions for review under Art. 112a
  • D: Disciplinary Board of Appeal

Decision types example

If you would like to exclude certain case types from your search, simply de-select them from the interface.

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Limiting a search to specific technical boards

To restrict your search to specific technical boards, click on the expand icon (see screenshot below) and select the boards you are interested in.

selected boards

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Searching in a time range

If you want to run your query within a certain time window, you can use the drop-down list to choose from a predefined list of options. The following example would show only those documents that match your search query AND have been published on the website in the past 7 days. If you want to see all documents published in a certain time window, you can leave the search field empty, choose the time range and then click on the search button.

Time range example

Similarly, you can select a precise time window using the calendar function:

Calendar example

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Language of proceedings and publishing/distribution information

Using these functions you can limit your search results to:

1. only cases that had either English, or French, or German as the language of proceedings
2. only cases that have been distributed to board members and/or chairs or published in the EPO’s Official Journal

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Showing metadata in search results

By default, your search results will show the metadata of the decisions, which will help you to quickly determine whether a given decision is relevant or not. If you prefer to read your search result list without the metadata, de-select the "Show metadata" option and you will only see the context of your query in each result.

Metadata example

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Using the Clear function to start a new search

This search application locally stores your search criteria so that you can refine your searches at any time. Whenever you would like to start a new search with new search criteria, you can clear your local storage by clicking on "Clear". 

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Highlighting of search results

When you open the decision from the list of search results, please check the box "Highlight search terms" just below the page title.

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Subscribing to an RSS feed

To be notified whenever a new decision meeting particular criteria is published on the EPO website, you can subscribe to an RSS feed.

After running a search, simply copy the link "Use this link to subscribe to an RSS feed for these search criteria" and paste it into your RSS reader.

For more help on RSS feeds, see Help on RSS feeds.

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More than 1 000 documents in search results

The search tool used on this site generates - based on your search query - a result list that contains a maximum of 1 000 documents which are considered the most relevant. 

The search result list shows the most relevant documents by default, but you can change the sorting from "relevancy" to "date". However, if you change the sorting criteria, it is applied to the 1 000 documents already in the result list. In other words: "sort by date" only re-sorts the initial set of "relevant documents" using the documents' timestamps and lists them in a different order. No newer or older documents are added. 

The algorithm that determines the relevance of a document takes into account how often and where a given document is linked within the corpus of indexed documents. More recent documents may be linked less often than older documents, and may consequently be deemed less relevant by the search engine than older, heavily linked documents.

For these reasons we suggest you create search queries that deliver search results containing less than 1 000 documents. Setting up search profiles per language or limiting searches to particular time periods could help to keep the number of search results manageable. 

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