Duration of the periods to be specified by the EPO on the basis of EPC provisions 

The length of such periods is based, in principle, on the amount of work which is likely to be required to perform the operation in question (minimum of two months, maximum of four months, exceptionally six months). However, in order to facilitate the work of parties and the EPO it has been decided, as a general rule, to adopt a uniform practice with respect to time limits. This practice is at present as follows:

if deficiencies to be corrected are merely formal or merely of a minor character; if simple acts only are requested, e.g. under Rule 83 the subsequent filing of documents referred to by a party; or if observations are required on amendments which are merely of a minor character – two months;
communications from an examining or opposition division raising matters of substance – four months; 
communications from the Legal Division – two months. 

Where a communication according to Art. 94(3) in examination is accompanied by a request for a translation of a priority document (Rule 53(3)), the period set for reply to that communication and for providing the translation is the same and is at least four months, regardless of the severity of the objections raised in the communication according to Art. 94(3) (see also A‑III, 6.8.2).

A longer time limit of up to six months is set only in the exceptional cases where it is clear that in the circumstances a four-month time limit cannot be adhered to. Each case must be judged on its individual merits and it is difficult to give general guidance, but a six-month time limit might be justified if for example the subject-matter of the application or patent or the objections raised are exceptionally complicated. Note that in this case an extension of the time limit (i.e. beyond six months) will be allowed only in exceptional cases (E‑VIII, 1.6). Where the applicant is invited to submit the indication provided for in Rule 70(2), a six-month time limit running from the publication of the search report is appropriate.

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