GL A XI 2.3 Restrictions to file inspection

Inspection of files is subject to the restrictions laid down in Rule 144.[Art. 128(4); Rule 146; Rule 145; Rule 144; ]
The parts of the file excluded from inspection are:
(i)the documents relating to the exclusion of or objections to members of the boards of appeal or of the Enlarged Board of Appeal; [Rule 144(a); ]
(ii)draft decisions and opinions, and all other documents used for the preparation of decisions and opinions, which are not communicated to the parties; [Rule 144(b); ]
(iii)the designation of the inventor if that party has waived the right to be mentioned as inventor under Rule 20(1);[Rule 144(c); ]
(iv)any other document excluded from inspection by the President of the EPO on the ground that such inspection would not serve the purpose of informing the public about the European patent application or the resulting patent. These include documents relating to file inspection and requests for accelerated search and accelerated examination under the "PACE" programme (see the Decision of the President of the EPO dated 12 July 2007, Special edition No. 3, OJ EPO 2007, J.3);[Rule 144(d); ]
(v)subject to Rule 94.2 and 94.3 PCT, the files relating to international preliminary examination for a Euro-PCT application in respect of which the EPO is the International Preliminary Examining Authority and for which an international preliminary examination report has not yet been established (see OJ EPO 2003, 382; see also E‑IX, 2.10).[Art. 38(1) PCT; Rule 94 PCT; ]
Apart from listing the documents excluded from file inspection by the EPO of its own motion, the decision of the President referred to under point (iv) above stipulates that (parts of) other documents the inspection of which is claimed to be prejudicial to the legitimate personal or economic interests of a natural or legal person may be excluded from file inspection on request. Any such request needs to be duly substantiated and point out in which specific way the legitimate personal or economic interests of the party are affected and what are the consequences thereof rather than merely making a statement concerning a party's interests in general. Also, it is recommended to clearly mark any requests for exclusion from file inspection, allowing them to be immediately identified as such and to be provisionally excluded from inspection, pending a final decision on the request.
When a submission is to be excluded from file inspection only partially, only the parts or passages in question are excluded, while the rest of the submission remains public.
If it is decided that certain papers, either marked "confidential" or in view of the nature of their content, are not to be excluded from file inspection under Rule 144, they are returned to the sender (see T 516/89).

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