OJ EPO 2009, 601 - Notice from the European Patent Office dated 26 October 2009 on the establishment of the date of the Examining Division's first communication for calculation of the time limit under Rule 36(1)(a) EPC as from 1 April 2010

Amended Rule 36 EPC 1 will enter into force on 1 April 2010. In that connection, the EPO has recently received numerous enquiries concerning the search options available after the "Examining Division's first communication".

It will be recalled that the "Examining Division's first communication" referred to in new Rule 36(1)(a) EPC is a communication under Article 94(3) and Rule 71(1), (2) EPC or, where appropri- ate, Rule 71(3) EPC. The notification of this communication in respect of the earliest European patent application causes the 24-month period for filing a divisional application to start, which is one of the two requirements for voluntary division.

With regard to the enquiries referred to above:

The EPO's ESPACE Bulletin, which is available on subscription, contains biblio- graphic and procedurally relevant data relating to all European patent appli- cations and granted patents since 1978. This DVD/CD-ROM collection is updated regularly.

ESPACE Bulletin can be searched, for instance, on the basis of the applicant's or representative's name, or of certain procedural acts such as the sending of the examining division's first commu- nication. Further information on search options can be found on the EPO's website at http://www.epo.org/patents/patent- information/subscription/bulletin.html.

1 See the notice from the EPO dated 20 August 2009, OJ EPO 2009, 481.

An ESPACE Bulletin search will not deli- ver every conceivable item of data. It will not do so, for instance, when an appli- cant's name has been spelt in different ways. Nevertheless, it should serve as a good starting point.

Information on prices (currently EUR 262.00 plus postage and packa- ging), where to order and general terms of business is available at http://www.epo.org/patents/patent- information/ordering.html. Alternatively, the ESPACE Advice Line can be contacted at epal@epo.org.

The EPO also intends to organise in the near future a virtual course of instruction setting out the search options for its ESPACE products. Further details can be found at http://epo.webex.com/ ESPACE Bulletin.

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EPC Implementing Rules

Offical Journal of the EPO