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PCT International Search and Preliminary Examination Guidelines


Chapter 19 Examination Procedure Before The International Preliminary Examining Authority

Determination of Time Limits

Articles 35(1), 47(1)

19.49  When it is a matter for the Authority to determine applicable time limits referred to in the PCT, the examiner must consult all the factors relevant to the particular international application under consideration as well as the Regulations under the PCT which govern such time limits. The most important time limits for international preliminary examination so far as International Preliminary Examining Authorities are concerned, have been considered in more detail in the various chapters and paragraphs as follows:

(i) translations of priority document: see Chapter 6 and Chapter 18;

(ii) amendments: see Chapter 20 and paragraph 17.57;

(iii) rectifications of obvious mistakes: see paragraph 19.39 and Chapter 8;

(iv) response by the applicant to first written opinion: see Chapter 17;

(v) restricting claims or payment of additional fees: see Chapter 10;

(vi) furnishing priority documents: see Chapter 6;

(vii) establishment of the international preliminary examination report: see paragraphs 19.10 and 19.11

Rules 80, 82, 82quater 

19.50  Any time limit fixed by the International Preliminary Examining Authority will usually be specified in full months, which should be calculated from the day following the date of mailing of a particular communication inviting a response by the applicant. Rules 80.1 to 80.4 provide precise details for the determination of the day of expiration of the prescribed time limit. Rule 80.5 contains provisions covering certain contingencies, for example, that the Office of the International Preliminary Examining Authority is not open on the day on which the time limit to respond by the applicant expires (or there is an official holiday in the locality of any branch of the Office, or in a part of the Contracting State for which the Office is the government authority, such that the national law of the Office provides that such periods for national applications expire on a subsequent working day). Rule 82 covers the situation where there is a disruption in the postal service (see paragraph 22.52). Rules 82quater.1 and 82quater.2 provide for an excuse of delays in meeting time limits because of force majeure reasons or the unavailability of any permitted electronic means of communication at the International Preliminary Examining Authority (see paragraphs 22.52A to 22.52D).  Rule 82quater.3 authorizes the International Preliminary Examining Authority to extend time limits in case of a general disruption caused by a force majeure event which affects the operations at the Authority (see paragraphs 22.52E to 22.52H).

Failure of Applicant to Respond Within a Prescribed Time Limit

Rule 66.4bis

19.51 If the applicant has not responded within a prescribed time limit, the effect of such lack of response differs as the circumstances of the case may require under the PCT and its Regulations. For instance, the international preliminary examination report may be established as if priority had not been claimed (see paragraph 17.29); the international preliminary examination report may be established on the “main invention” (see paragraph 17.62); the international preliminary examination report may be established with a negative determination (see paragraph 19.20 and Chapter 17). Normally, amendments, arguments and requests for rectification of obvious mistakes need not be taken into account by the examiner for the purposes of a written opinion or the international preliminary examination report if they are received after he has begun to draw up that opinion or report (see paragraph 20.05).