The initial processing and formal examination of international applications are carried out in the international phase by PCT authorities under the PCT.[Art. 23 PCT; Art. 40 PCT; Rule 49.1(a bis) PCT; Art. 24(1)(iii) PCT; Rule 159(1); Rule 160; Art. 121; Art. 2(1), item 12, RFees; ]
Unless there is a specific request for early processing (see E‑IX, 2.8), the EPO acting as a designated or elected Office may not process or examine an international application prior to the expiry of 31 months from the date of filing of the application or, if priority has been claimed, from the earliest priority date (31-month time limit). The EPO will, however, prior to the expiry of the 31-month time limit, perform any purely administrative tasks such as adding documents relating to the European phase to the file and recording the professional European representative appointed to act on behalf of the applicant in the European phase, to ensure the correct notification of correspondence once the ban on processing has been lifted. Since the EPO has not exercised the waiver referred to in Art. 20(1)(a) PCT, a copy of the international application will be furnished by the International Bureau. The EPO does not require the applicant to furnish a copy of the international application under Art. 22 PCT or Art. 39 PCT, even if the International Bureau has not yet communicated a copy under Art. 20 PCT at the time the application enters the European phase (see PCT Gazette 14/1986, 2367).
Date retrieved: 17 May 2021
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EPC Implementing Rules
XR.159 EPC The European Patent Office as a designated or elected Office – Requirements for entry into the European phase