Preliminary International Application
Normally a national patent application will have been filed, followed within 12 months by an International application. In this, an International Search, will have been made and published, possibly accompanied by a Written Opinion on patentability.
Optionally, an International Preliminary Examination Report (IPER) will have been issued. International searches and preliminary examinations are likely to have been carried out at the applicant’s national patent office. Occasionally, the searches and examinations will have been done elsewhere. If they have been done at the EPO, the Euro-PCT phase will be at least cheaper, although the heavy EPO fees will already have been incurred. Often the EPO will not accept an overseas search as adequate and will make a supplementary search in the regional phase.
Amendments may have been made in the International phase, particularly in the case of “X” novelty citations and “Y” inventiveness citations.
Thus the starting points for Euro-PCT applications can vary considerably.