Request for an interview or telephone consultation 

Art. 34(2) gives the applicant the right to communicate orally with the IPEA. Thus, a request for a telephone conversation from the applicant or the agent (including those overseas) will be granted, but only after the subject-matter on which the international preliminary examination is to be based has been clarified, i.e. only after the applicant has filed a written response to the WO‑ISA, or, if the international search report has raised an objection of lack of unity, to an invitation to restrict the claims or to pay additional fees (Form 405). In that way, the subject-matter to be discussed in the telephone conversation is clarified upfront. Requests for personal interviews are not granted. However, if a personal interview is requested, the examiner should inform the applicant by phone that it is the EPO's policy not to grant personal interviews, but that the matter can be discussed in the form of a telephone consultation subject to the above condition.

If the applicant has requested a telephone consultation the following applies:

OJ EPO 2011, 532

as a general rule the applicant has, upon request, the right to one telephone consultation; 
after a telephone consultation the applicant should in general be given a time limit (normally two months) to file amended claims and/or arguments. If, in a telephone consultation, the applicant has expressed the intention not to file further observations/amendments, in other words if the applicant has agreed to receive an IPER without further interaction, minutes of the telephone consultation are sent and these are directly followed up with a negative IPER. No time limit is set in the minutes. 
if, before issuance of the (further) written opinion (Form 408), the applicant has requested a telephone consultation or alternatively a further written opinion, the examiner has the discretion to decide which kind of interaction is most suitable for the application in question; 
in the specific case of a telephone consultation being requested after issuance of the further written opinion but before the date on which the IPER is established, the request must be granted before a negative IPER is issued. However, in this case the applicant does not have the right to file further amendments, unless an agreement has been explicitly reached (see below). 

When a telephone consultation is arranged, the matters for discussion should be clearly stated in advance. If the arrangement is made by telephone, the examiner should record the particulars and briefly indicate in the file (Form 428: minutes of telephone conversation) the matters to be discussed as well as the date and time for the consultation. A copy of the arrangements recorded is sent to the applicant.

If the applicant wishes to discuss amended claims during a telephone consultation, a copy of such claims should be sent in advance to the examiner in order to enable appropriate preparation. The time limit for such submissions will be set by the examiner on the record of the arrangement.

The result of the telephone consultation is recorded by the examiner and added to the file. The recording will depend upon the nature of the matters under discussion and will be forwarded to the applicant.

If the consultation replaces the second written opinion or takes place after a reply to a second written opinion but has ended with an agreement on amendments, Form 428 will include:

a warning that the amendments cannot be made by the IPEA and 
an invitation for the applicant to file amended sheets normally within one month, but at least one month before the deadline for the IPER (unless as agreed with respect to the late issue of the IPER). 

In those cases where the consultation takes place after a reply to a second written opinion and no agreement has been reached, applicants are informed that their arguments will be taken into account when establishing the IPER.

Enquiries as to the processing of files may be filed online using the dedicated form (EPO Form 1012) (see the Notice from the EPO dated 2 August 2016, OJ EPO 2016, A66).

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