EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Pilot programme on search strategies
1. On 1 November 2015, the European Patent Office (EPO) will launch a pilot programme aimed at providing additional information regarding the search performed by the examiner in a new sheet called "Information on Search Strategy". This sheet will be provided for information only.
2. The pilot will test whether and to what extent the information sheet is useful to applicants and third parties.
3. The information sheet will be annexed to all search reports drawn up by the EPO under both the PCT and EP procedures, including partial search reports and the search results provided under the procedure pursuant to Rule 164(2) EPC. If the application lacks unity of invention, the data contained in this sheet will only concern the invention(s) for which the search fee(s) has (have) been paid.
4. The information sheet will contain certain details about the databases in which examiners conducted the prior art search, the classification symbols defining the extent of the search (e.g. IPC and/or CPC classes), and the keywords selected by examiners or any other element relating to the invention to be searched and used to retrieve the relevant prior art. The type of information included may change during the pilot phase.
5. The information sheet will be automatically annexed to all search reports drawn up by the EPO under both the PCT and EP procedures. As a result, no express request from the applicant is needed.
6. Upon publication of a search report drawn up under the EP procedure, the information sheet will be made available to the public via file inspection in the European Patent Register. Upon publication of a search report drawn up under the PCT procedure, the information sheet will be made available to the public via file inspection on WIPO's PATENTSCOPE.
7. The pilot programme will start on 1 November 2015 and is scheduled to end on 31 December 2016. The information sheet will be annexed to search reports drawn up on or after 1 November 2015 until the end of the pilot programme.
8. At the end of the pilot phase, the EPO will evaluate the results of the pilot programme to determine whether and how the programme should be fully implemented in 2017. The pilot programme may also be extended if necessary.