The following text is partly adapted from Google resources.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
If your search term has more than one meaning, you can focus your search by adding a minus sign ("-") in front of words related to the meaning you want to avoid. Make sure you include a space before the minus sign. You can daisy chain a list of words you want to exclude.
You can search for an exact phrase or name in the following ways:
Phrase connectors and quotation marks join your search words as a single unit. For example, if you type the following query, the search engine treats it as a phrase search even though the search words are not enclosed in quotation marks.
The search engine supports two wildcard operators:
Typical search terms would be "pr*nt", which would find matches such as "print", "president" or "propellant", and "pr?nt", which would only find matches such as "print".
In order to use wildcards as part of your search, please apply the following syntax:
"wildcard:pr?nt" or alternatively "wildcard:pr*nt".
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:
If you would like to exclude certain case types from your search, simply de-select them from the interface.
To restrict your search to specific technical boards, click on the expand icon (see screenshot below) and select the boards you are interested in.
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.
Similarly, you can select a precise time window using the calendar function:
Using these functions you can limit your search results to:
1. only such cases that had either English, or French, or German as the language of proceedings
2. only cases that have been distributed to board chairmen and/or members or published in the EPO’s Official Journal
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.
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".
When you open the decision from the list of search results, please check the box "Highlight search terms" just below the page title.
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.
The search tool used on this site (Google Search Appliance) generates - based on your search query - a result list that contains a maximum of 1 000 documents, which are considered the most relevant. This maximum of 1 000 documents is hardcoded in the GSA and cannot be changed by us.
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 GSA 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.