Article 128 – Inspection of files - The European Patent Convention, Convention on the Grant of European Patents – (European Patent Convention), Part VII – Common provisions, Chapter II – Information to the public or to official authorities
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Files relating to European patent applications which have not yet been published shall not be made available for inspection without the consent of the applicant.
Any person who can prove that the applicant has invoked the rights under the European patent application against him may obtain inspection of the files before the publication of that application and without the consent of the applicant.
Where a European divisional application or a new European patent application filed under Article 61, paragraph 1, is published, any person may obtain inspection of the files of the earlier application before the publication of that application and without the consent of the applicant.
After the publication of the European patent application, the files relating to the application and the resulting European patent may be inspected on request, subject to the restrictions laid down in the Implementing Regulations.
Even before the publication of the European patent application, the European Patent Office may communicate to third parties or publish the particulars specified in the Implementing Regulations.
See the decision of the President of the EPO dated 12.07.2007 (Special edition No. 3 OJ EPO 2007, J.2 and J.3) and the decision of the President of the of the EPO dated 14.02.2018 concerning online file inspection of documents contained in the file held by the EPO as receiving Office, International Searching Authority or Authority specified for supplementary search (OJ EPO 2018, A14).