(1) The European Patent Office shall constitute, maintain and preserve files relating to all European patent applications and patents.
(2) The President of the European Patent Office shall determine the form in which the files relating to European patent applications and patents shall be constituted, maintained and preserved.
(3) Documents incorporated in an electronic file shall be considered to be originals.
(4) Files relating to European patent applications and patents shall be preserved for at least five years from the end of the year in which:
(a) the application is refused or withdrawn or is deemed to be withdrawn;
(b) the patent is revoked pursuant to opposition proceedings; or
(c) the patent or the extended term or corresponding protection under Article 63, paragraph 2, lapses in the last of the designated States.
(5) Without prejudice to paragraph 4, files relating to European patent applications which have given rise to divisional applications under Article 76 or new applications under Article 61, paragraph 1(b), shall be preserved for at least the same period as the files relating to any one of these last applications. The same shall apply to files relating to any resulting European patents.
138Amended by decision of the Administrative Council of 10.12.1998 which entered into force on 01.01.1999 (OJ EPO 1999, 1 ff).