Originally published in OJ EPO 2019, A16:
Decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 20 February 2019 on the inspection of files
Online file inspection
(1) The files relating to European patent applications and granted patents, and to international applications under the PCT for which the European Patent Office acts as a designated or elected Office, shall be available for inspection online, free of charge, via the European Patent Register. The European Patent Office shall provide computers for online file inspection on its premises.
(2) After the introduction of free online file inspection, as a rule it will no longer be possible to inspect paper files on the premises of the European Patent Office.
(3) If inspection is requested of a file not yet stored in electronic form, as a rule the file will be made available online within ten working days of entry of the application or publication number, unless it has already been destroyed (Rule 147 EPC). Entering a valid application or publication number is equivalent to requesting a file inspection. There is no need for a separate written request.
(4) Paragraph 3 shall not apply to files for which oral proceedings are imminent or have recently taken place.
(5) Files or parts thereof that are not scannable shall be made available for inspection in their original form or as filed. They shall be made thus available on the premises of the European Patent Office.
File inspection on paper copies
(1) In exceptional cases file inspection on paper copies shall be available on request.
(2) If more than 100 pages have to be produced, the EPO will normally provide only an electronic storage medium holding a copy of the file.
(3) On request, the European Patent Office shall certify the paper copies made available under paragraph 1. The certification request shall not be deemed to have been made until the administrative fee for it has been paid.
(4) It will normally take at least four weeks for the requested electronic storage media or paper copies to be made available.
Previous decisions superseded
On the entry into force of this decision, the decision of the President of the European Patent Office dated 12 July 2007 on the inspection of files (OJ EPO 2007, Special edition No. 3, J.2) shall cease to have effect.
Entry into force
This decision shall enter into force on 1 April 2019.
Done at Munich, 20 February 2019