Under Rule 141 EPC, if a European application claims priority to an earlier application the applicant must file a copy of any search report prepared by the relevant national authority on the priority application. The search results must be filed along with the European application, or failing that in response to an invitation from the EPO. 

However, Rule 141(2) EPC provides for exemptions to this rule, whereby the EPO will automatically include search results from certain search authorities in the EP file. Applicants claiming priority to applications filed with certain national patent offices therefore do not need to file the search results themselves. 

The EPO has just announced that the list of exemptions has been expanded to include South Korea. This means that applicants claiming priority to South Korean applications will not need to file search results from the priority application with the EPO. The full list of exemptions is below. 

Applicants will be exempted from filing a copy of the search results under Rule 141(1) EPC if they are claiming the priority of either : 

  • an application on which the EPO drew up the search report, or
  • a first filing made in
  • Austria,
  • Japan,
  • the Republic of Korea,
  • the United Kingdom or
  • the United States of America.