World Intellectual Property Organization

Regulations under the PCT

Rule 33
Relevant Prior Art for the International Search

33.1       Relevant Prior Art for the International Search

(a)  For the purposes of Article 15(2), relevant prior art shall consist of everything which has been made available to the public anywhere in the world by means of written disclosure (including drawings and other illustrations) and which is capable of being of assistance in determining that the claimed invention is or is not new and that it does or does not involve an inventive step (i.e., that it is or is not obvious), provided that the making available to the public occurred prior to the international filing date.

(b)  When any written disclosure refers to an oral disclosure, use, exhibition, or other means whereby the contents of the written disclosure were made available to the public, and such making available to the public occurred on a date prior to the international filing date, the international search report shall separately mention that fact and the date on which it occurred if the making available to the public of the written disclosure occurred on a date which is the same as, or later than, the international filing date.

(c)  Any published application or any patent whose publication date is the same as, or later than, but whose filing date, or, where applicable, claimed priority date, is earlier than the international filing date of the international application searched, and which would constitute relevant prior art for the purposes of Article 15(2) had it been published prior to the international filing date, shall be specially mentioned in the international search report.

33.2       Fields to Be Covered by the International Search

(a)  The international search shall cover all those technical fields, and shall be carried out on the basis of all those search files, which may contain material pertinent to the invention.

(b)  Consequently, not only shall the art in which the invention is classifiable be searched but also analogous arts regardless of where classified.

(c)  The question what arts are, in any given case, to be regarded as analogous shall be considered in the light of what appears to be the necessary essential function or use of the invention and not only the specific functions expressly indicated in the international application.

(d)  The international search shall embrace all subject matter that is generally recognized as equivalent to the subject matter of the claimed invention for all or certain of its features, even though, in its specifics, the invention as described in the international application is different.

33.3       Orientation of the International Search

(a)  International search shall be made on the basis of the claims, with due regard to the description and the drawings (if any) and with particular emphasis on the inventive concept towards which the claims are directed.

(b)  In so far as possible and reasonable, the international search shall cover the entire subject matter to which the claims are directed or to which they might reasonably be expected to be directed after they have been amended.

Explore WIPO