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 decision of the President of the EPO of 12.07.2007 concerning documents excluded from file inspection (Special edition No. 3 OJ EPO 2007, J.3), decision of the President of the EPO of 20.02.2019 on the inspection of files (OJ EPO 2019, A16) and decision of the President of the EPO of 20.02.2019 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 2019, A17).