A Search Report is the result of the examination carried out by
the pertaining Authority (European Patent Office - EPO) by comparing
the content, as identified, of the claims in your patent title with
the content of the prior art, which is found on each different occasion
by the person (Examiner) who has been given the task of conducting
the examination by the EPO. The claims define the protected field
that can be used to oppose third parties.
A Search Report issued by the EPO has a very high level of certainty
(although it rarely gives absolute certainty) and the results depend
on the reasoning of the Examiner who has carried out the search
and on which documents he has had access to.
A Search Report looks like this:
The references we have added have the following meanings:
- identifies the level of importance that
the Examiner has given to the specific prior art document found,
which is shown alongside (in col. 2) with the relative parts to
be considered - for example (among the most frequent categories):
X means important because it cancels the novelty of your patent
Y means that the document cited, together with another document
in the same Search Report also identified by the letter Y, makes
the content of your patent title obvious
A means that the document is not considered relevant but only
that it is part of the same technological background
These categories into which the documents are divided (together
with other, less common categories) are described, in synthesis,
at the bottom of the Search Report – see position 4.
- identifies the data of the specific prior
art document and those parts of said document which the Examiner
believes to be relevant with regard to the specific claims of
your patent title.
- identifies the specific claims of your patent
title compared with the document in col. 2.
The examination which you have to make must compare the content
of the specific claims of your patent title, as identified in col.
3, with the content of the individual prior art documents as specified
in col. 2.
Therefore, with reference to the example given above, document EP-A-0.996.283
must be examined with particular reference to the abstract, the
description (from col. 1 line 58 to col. 3 line 32) and claim 1
with regard to the content of claim 5 of the patent title under
It must be remembered that the prior art document is considered
relevant by the Examiner (letter Y) in combination with document
Furthermore, WO-A-95/28804 must also be examined with regard to
claims 1 to 4 and 6 to 10 of the patent title as a relevant document
(letter X) and taking into consideration the parts of the description
of WO’804 pointed out by the Examiner.
From this analytical examination, the differences which in your
opinion are relevant for the defence of your inventive idea, must
be clear. These differences must be present in your invention in
relation to every individual document, considered
not generically, but considering only that part of the document
which has been clearly identified by the Examiner.
However, it is advisable to examine and compare all
the documents cited attentively, in their entirety, even
if they are identified with zero level of importance. This is because
the Examiner does not always center the core of the inventive idea,
or the part of the inventive idea, which you are interested in.