Applicants may withdraw their application at any time as long as the application is pending, provided that no third parties have proven to the EPO that they have initiated proceedings concerning entitlement to the application pursuant to Rule 14. With regard to the pendency of an application, see A‑IV, 1.1.1.
The same applies to the withdrawal of a designation (see also A‑III, 11.3.8). If all designations are withdrawn, the application is deemed to be withdrawn.
Withdrawal of the application in due time before the eighteen-month publication has the advantage that the contents of the application do not become known to the public (see A‑VI, 1.2). If, furthermore, no rights have been left outstanding and the application has not served as a basis for claiming a right of priority, a subsequent application for the same invention can be considered as the first application for the purposes of determining priority (see F‑VI, 1.4.1). If the examination fee has been paid, it will be refunded in full or in part (see A‑VI, 2.5).
Where a patent application has been refused, proceedings are still pending until expiry of the period for filing an appeal. On the day after, proceedings are no longer pending if no appeal is filed. Therefore, an application which is refused either in written or oral proceedings can still be withdrawn in this period.