As from 1 April 2017, the EPO provides applicants with a provisional opinion on the patentability of the invention (or unitary group of inventions) first mentioned in the claims (see OJ EPO 2017, A20). This provisional opinion is sent together with the invitation to pay further/additional search fees and the partial search results. It also includes the reasons for the non-unity findings.
The provisional opinion is sent for information only. A reply addressing the points raised in the provisional opinion is not required and will not be taken into account when the extended European search report (EESR) is issued. Only the EESR requires a response under Rule 70a.
The provisional opinion accompanying the partial search results is available to the public via online file inspection.