MPEP 1843
The International Search

Ninth Edition of the MPEP, Revision 07.2022, Last Revised in February 2023

Previous: §1842 | Next: §1843.01

1843    The International Search [R-07.2015]

PCT Article 17

Procedure Before the International Searching Authority

  • (1) Procedure before the International Searching Authority shall be governed by the provisions of this Treaty, the Regulations, and the agreement which the International Bureau shall conclude, subject to this Treaty and the Regulations, with the said Authority.
  • (2)
    • (a) If the International Searching Authority considers:
      • (i) that the international application relates to a subject matter which the International Searching Authority is not required, under the Regulations, to search, and in the particular case decides not to search, or
      • (ii) that the description, the claims, or the drawings, fail to comply with the prescribed requirements to such an extent that a meaningful search could not be carried out, the said Authority shall so declare and shall notify the applicant and the International Bureau that no international search report will be established.
    • (b) If any of the situations referred to in subparagraph (a) is found to exist in connection with certain claims only, the international search report shall so indicate in respect of such claims, whereas, for the other claims, the said report shall be established as provided in Article 18.
  • (3)
    • (a) If the International Searching Authority considers that the international application does not comply with the requirement of unity of invention as set forth in the Regulations, it shall invite the applicant to pay additional fees. The International Searching Authority shall establish the international search report on those parts of the international application which relate to the invention first mentioned in the claims ( "main invention" ) and, provided the required additional fees have been paid within the prescribed time limit, on those parts of the international application which relate to inventions in respect of which the said fees were paid.
    • (b) The national law of any designated State may provide that, where the national Office of the State finds the invitation, referred to in subparagraph (a), of the International Searching Authority justified and where the applicant has not paid all additional fees, those parts of the international application which consequently have not been searched shall, as far as effects in the State are concerned, be considered withdrawn unless a special fee is paid by the applicant to the national Office of that State.

PCT Rule 43bis

Written Opinion of the International Searching Authority

43 bis.1 Written Opinion

  • (a) Subject to Rule 69.1(b-bis), the International Searching Authority shall, at the same time as it establishes the international search report or the declaration referred to in Article 17(2)(a), establish a written opinion as to:
    • (i) whether the claimed invention appears to be novel, to involve an inventive step (to be non-obvious), and to be industrially applicable;
    • (ii) whether the international application complies with the requirements of the Treaty and these Regulations in so far as checked by the International Searching Authority.

      The written opinion shall also be accompanied by such other observations as these Regulations provide for.

  • (b) For the purposes of establishing the written opinion, Articles 33(2) to (6) and 35(2) and (3) and Rules 43.4, 43.6bis, 64, 65, 66.1(e), 66.7, 67, 70.2(b) and (d), 70.3, 70.4(ii), 70.5(a), 70.6 to 70.10, 70.12, 70.14 and 70.15(a) shall apply mutatis mutandis.
  • (c) The written opinion shall contain a notification informing the applicant that, if a demand for international preliminary examination is made, the written opinion shall, under Rule 66.1bis(a) but subject to Rule 66.1bis(b), be considered to be a written opinion of the International Preliminary Examining Authority for the purposes of Rule 66.2(a), in which case the applicant is invited to submit to that Authority, before the expiration of the time limit under Rule 54 bis.1(a), a written reply together, where appropriate, with amendments.

The international search is a thorough, high quality search of the most relevant resources. Upon completion of the international search an international search report is established. The report provides information on the relevant prior art to the applicant, the public, the designated Offices, and the International Preliminary Examining Authority.

PCT Article 15 describes the objective of the international search, i.e., to uncover relevant prior art, and also describes the international-type search. It should be noted generally that an international-type search is performed on all U.S. national applications filed after June 1, 1978.

The written opinion indicates whether the claimed invention appears to be novel, to involve an inventive step (to be non-obvious), and to be industrially applicable. The written opinion also indicates any defects in the form or content of the international application under the PCT Articles or Regulations. In addition, the written opinion includes any observations that the International Searching Authority wishes to make on the clarity of the claims, the description, and the drawings, or on the question of whether the claims are fully supported by the description.