There are instances where personal consultation with the applicant can be helpful in advancing the procedure. Such consultation will preferably be held by videoconference, thereby allowing, where necessary, the presentation of documents, the participation of other persons and the verification of the identity of the person(s) attending (see C‑VII, 2.2). However, consultations can also be held by telephone at the request of the applicant, if the situation so requires.
The consultation may take place at the initiative of either the applicant or the examiner or formalities officer. However, the decision on whether it is to be held is at the discretion of the formalities officer or examiner. A consultation request from the applicant should usually be granted unless the nature of the issue to be discussed requires formal proceedings or the examiner believes that no useful purpose would be served by such a discussion. For example, where substantial differences of opinion exist in examination, written procedure or oral proceedings are normally more appropriate.
Typical situations in which applicants may want a consultation are:
(i)to enquire about a procedural issue such as how to proceed in particular circumstances (note however that the examiner is not normally in charge of formal issues such as extensions of time limits and payment of fees); for enquiries as to the processing of files, see E‑VIII, 7;
(ii)where there appears to be an error in the communication or in the applicant's reply which makes it difficult for the applicant or the examiner to prepare the next reply/communication (e.g. wrong document cited, communication based on wrong set of claims, new submissions referred to but not included).
Typical situations in which examiners may consider it appropriate to consult the applicant are:
(iii)where it appears that there is confusion about certain points in dispute, e.g. the applicant seems to have misunderstood the arguments of the examiner or vice versa, so that the written procedure does not lead anywhere;
(iv)where the application seems to be ready for grant except that the examiner needs to clarify some minor issues with the applicant or would like to discuss a proposal for amendments to overcome the objections raised;
(v)where amendments or corrections requested by the applicant after the Rule 71(3) communication have been submitted but the examiner cannot agree to the request.
With regard to consultations in response to the EESR before the application has entered the examination phase, see B‑XI, 8.
Telephone conversations held for the sole purpose of arranging a date for a consultation or oral proceedings do not in and of themselves constitute a consultation within the meaning of this section. Therefore, no minutes need to be prepared (C‑VII, 2.4) unless so required where the applicant agrees to a notice period of less than two months before oral proceedings (E‑III, 6).