B‑III, 3.2 Interpretation of claims - Guidelines for Examination
Interpretation of claims 

The search should on the one hand not be restricted to the literal wording of the claims, but on the other hand should not be broadened to include everything that might be derived by a person skilled in the art from a consideration of the description and drawings. The examiner may need to consider the contents of the description and/or drawings when performing the search in order to:

identify the technical problem and its solution; 
establish definitions of unclear terms not defined in the claims; 
establish definitions of clear terms given a definition different from their usual meaning; 
ascertain the existence of a fallback position. 

The objective of the search is to identify prior art which is relevant to novelty and/or inventive step (see B‑II, 2). The search should be directed to what appear to be the essential features of the invention and take into account any changes in the (objective) technical problem underlying the invention which may occur during the search as a result of the retrieved prior art (see B‑IV, 2.3 and 2.4, and G‑VII, 5.2).

When interpreting claims for the purpose of the search, the search will also take into consideration prior art incorporating technical features which are well-known equivalents to the technical features of the claimed invention, which may undermine inventive step (see G‑VII, Annex, 1.1(ii)).

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