The EPO may be a "designated Office" or an "elected Office" for an international application filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) designating "EP" (Euro-PCT application). If an applicant enters the European phase without having requested international preliminary examination under PCT Chapter II, the EPO will act as a "designated Office". If before entering the European phase the application was processed under PCT Chapter II, the EPO will act in the European phase as an ''elected Office''. Such application is thereby deemed to be a European application (Euro-PCT application) for the purposes of the EPC. Pursuant to Art. 153(2), an international application for which the EPO is a designated or elected Office is deemed to be a European patent application.
However, in the case of Euro-PCT applications, the provisions of the PCT apply in addition to those of the EPC, and where there is conflict between them, e.g. in the case of certain time limits, the provisions of the PCT prevail.
According to Art. 153(1)(a), the EPO is a designated Office for contracting states to the EPC in respect of which the PCT has entered into force, which are designated in the international application and for which the applicant wishes to obtain a European patent. If the applicant has elected a designated state, the EPO is an elected Office (Art. 153(1)(b), for details see E-IX, 2.1.1).
In addition to being a designated and, where appropriate, elected Office, the EPO may act as a receiving Office under the PCT within the terms set out in Art. 151. Furthermore, itIt may also act as an International Searching Authority (ISA), as an International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) under the terms of Art. 152 and/or as an International Searching Authority specified for Supplementary International SearchingSearch Authority(SISA) under the PCT (see also the EPO-WIPO Agreement, OJ EPO 2017, A115, OJ EPO 2018, A24, and OJ EPO 2018, A35). There are thus the following possibilities for a European application filed under the provisions of the PCT:
In case (i), there European application will be accompanied by an international search report drawn up by another office. In cases (ii) and (iii), the international search report and the "written opinion of the International Searching Authority" (WO-ISA) (Rule 43bis PCT) will have been prepared by the search division of the EPO.In case (iv), the international search report and the international preliminary examination report may be drawn up by the EPO or by another International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority.
For further details, in particular as to deadlines and procedural steps on the procedure before the EPO as RO, ISA, IPEA or SISA, see the Guidelines for search and examination at the EPO as PCT authority (GL/PCT-EPO) and latest version of the Guide for applicants: "'Euro-PCT Guide': PCT procedure at the EPO".