Third parties may, anonymously if so desired, file observations under the PCT which, unlike observations under the EPC, should exclusively refer to prior art relevant to the novelty and/or inventive step of the invention claimed in the international application. [Rule 89; GL/ISPE 15.63.1; GL/ISPE 16.51.1; GL/ISPE 17.66.1; ]
The observations are to be submitted electronically to the IB between the date of international publication and 28 months from the priority date of the international application. They may be filed in any language of publication; the cited prior art may be in any language.[Rule 48.3; ]
The applicant is notified by the International Bureau (IB) of any such observations and may file comments within 30 months from the priority date.
The IB will promptly communicate any third-party observation and any comment by the applicant to the ISA, the SISA and the IPEA, unless the (supplementary) international search report or the international preliminary examination report (IPER) has already been received by the IB.
Promptly after the expiration of 30 months from the priority date, the third-party observation(s) and the applicant's comment(s) will be sent to all designated Offices and elected Offices.
Any third-party observations/comments thereto will be made available for public inspection.
If the third-party observations and/or prior art are not in an official EPO language, the formalities officer at the EPO will invite the third party to submit a translation of the observations and/or the prior art in line with the European procedure (GL/EPO E‑V, 3), but setting a shorter time limit within the boundaries of the required strict PCT deadlines. No invitation is issued if these deadlines cannot be respected or if the third-party observations were filed anonymously. [Art. 14(1) EPC; ]
If the third-party observations and/or prior art are not in an official EPO language and a translation is not or cannot be filed, the examiner should nevertheless take them into account to the extent that this is feasible, in particular when they seem to be prima facie relevant (e.g. from the drawings of the prior-art documents). The examiner may add a remark in the WO-ISA that a translation will be required to allow a detailed assessment of the document(s).
Even when third-party observations have been filed, the deadlines indicated for issuing the different office actions under the PCT should be respected in order to ensure timely issuance of the ISR, SISR or IPER.
For third-party observations received during Chapter I, see GL/PCT-EPO B‑IV, 1.3. For third-party observations received during Chapter II, see GL/PCT-EPO C‑VII, 3.
Date retrieved: 02 November 2015