In some countries, e.g. in France, instead of the national patent office, the EPO takes over the search report and the written opinion.
When modifications or arguments are filed before the national patent office, of course the EPO is not informed.
Once a PCT application is filed, claiming priority of this first filing, the EPO is again in charge of the international search report.
Accordingly, applicants often have to file once again the arguments in favour of the patentability, after Art. 19 PCT.
To avoid this and improve its service, the EPO will launch on November 1st the “PCT Direct” service, which can be summed up as following:
Enables applicants to draw the attention of the EPO examiner (acting as receiving Office and International Searching Authority) on the modifications that have been made on the claims and the description between the priority application and the PCT application, with a letter ("PCT Direct letter") containing informal comments aimed at overcoming objections raised in the search opinion established by the EPO for the priority application.
=> time saving (before Art.19 PCT!)
- the examiner performing the international search will take informal comments filed under PCT Direct into account when preparing the international search report and written opinion
- the examiner will make no explicit reference to the PCT Direct letter or its content
- PCT Direct letters will be available to the public
=> PCT proceedings more efficient
=> anticipation of the EP phase from the PCT phase
Formalism as described in OJ 2014, A89 must be respected.
A PCT Direct letter is filed together with the international application.