New version of the EP authority file published

What is an authority file?

In the context of patent publications, an authority file is essentially a complete list of all the patent publication numbers issued by a patent authority. According to the IP5: "The primary purpose of authority files is to enable patent offices and third-party patent information providers to assess the completeness of their collections of publications of other patent offices."

An authority file includes both the publication number and additional qualifying information: "For consistency checks the EP authority file also contains publication numbers for which no patent document has been issued (withdrawn, deleted) or no patent document is available (missing, reissued, international publications not republished)." (See the EPO's authority file page.)

Many patent offices around the globe maintain a record of all the publication numbers they have assigned together with an indication about the status of the publication in question. The "IP5" offices - the European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office, the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the National Intellectual Property Administration of the People's Republic of China and the United States Patent and Trademark Office - have agreed on certain standards and definitions regarding their authority files. Dedicated information on the IP5 authority files as well as links to each IP5 office's authority file can be found on the IP5 website.

The authority files initiated by the IP5 offices are considered a valuable quality assurance measure and ultimately led to WIPO Standard ST.37 "Recommendation for an authority file of published patent documents". Currently, 29 IP offices from all around the world offer authority files. A comprehensive overview of the offices, coverage and update frequencies can be found on the WIPO authority file pages.

The EP authority file

The EP authority file is published every six months. It is available in XML, CSV and JSON format and can be downloaded free of charge from the EPO's authority file page. It is provided in the form of a table and for each publication number it has different columns for the country code, the serial number, the document kind code, the publication date and, where applicable, the "exception code".

Most publication numbers do not feature an exception code - this means that the publication in question is a "regular" publication available on the European Publication Server.

However, if a publication number does not make it to a regular publication, an exception code will be added to indicate why. The following exception codes can be found in the EP authority file:

Exception code



Not republished EuroPCT publications


Supplementary search report




Reissued publications


Not used publication numbers


Missing publication documents


Deletions after publication


Unknown publication numbers


Defective publication documents

Further details can be found in the definition file of the EP authority file, which also provides an overview of how many publications have a certain kind code and how many documents each exception code has been assigned to.

New update to the EP authority file - as at end of June 2022

The latest update of the EP authority file was published on 30 June 2022. To be compliant with the latest recommendations of WIPO Standard 37, the new issue of the EP authority file also includes information on the availability of searchable fulltext of the abstract, description and/or claims in the publication document. For each part of a document (abstract, description and/or claims) the language codes for the available searchable fulltext data are provided. Missing searchable fulltext data is indicated by the character N instead of a language code. An empty language code means that this part of the document should not be expected in the published document. For example, published EP-B documents do not have abstracts, and published corrections of title pages do not contain descriptions and claims.

The picture shows the authority file entry in XML format for the first B1 publication document. As described above, the fulltext of the abstract is not published in B publications, but the fulltext of the description is available in German and the fulltext of the claims is provided in all three official languages of the EPO.

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