The examiner needs to indicate whether the WO-ISA is to be considered positive or negative for further prosecution. The reason for this is that when entering the European phase the applicant is required to respond to the WO-ISA if it is negative, but not if it is positive (see GL/EPO E‑IX, 3.3.2).
As a general rule, a WO-ISA is considered positive if it contains no objections at all or only minor objections which would not hinder a direct grant in the EP phase (see also GL/EPO C‑V, 1.1).
In the special case where the search report cites P and/or E documents but the priority could not be checked and there are no other objections, the WO-ISA is considered positive (since the examiner in the European phase first has to evaluate the validity of the priority and then decide whether a grant is still possible).
On the other hand, if the relevance of the document is independent of the priority being valid, detailed reasons for the novelty objection will be given, as well as an indication to the applicant that such a document would be relevant when entering the European phase before the EPO.
In the case of method of treatment claims which can easily be reformulated into an allowable format (see also GL/PCT-EPO B‑VIII, 2.1), the above applies as well; i.e. if this is the only objection, the WO-ISA will be considered positive since such a reformulation can be done by the examiner at the grant stage in the European phase before the EPO.
In the special case of a non-unitary application, where all inventions searched were found to be novel and inventive, but still lacking unity – as the only objection – the WO-ISA is marked as negative.