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Date Published

An international search must be allocated as quickly as possible to a search examiner who is capable of completing the search within, or as near as possible to within, the target time (See Customer Service Charter Timeliness Guidelines for apology time limits)  Provided that the quality of the search is not compromised, the overriding consideration in allocating the search is achieving the target time, rather than allocating the search to someone who it might be said to “belong to” on the basis of its classification. The preliminary classification must also be determined as quickly as possible, in accordance with the latest IPC edition. Allocation and preliminary classification should ordinarily have been accomplished within one or two days of the search file having been processed by the International Sort Examiner(s).

If at any point it appears that this time frame is not going to be met, the situation must be brought to the attention of a Sort Examiner whose role it will be to facilitate the allocation of the case to a search examiner. If despite the intervention of a sort examiner the one or two days deadline will still not be achieved, the matter should be referred to an IPC Classification Arbiter. The Arbiter will investigate the cause(s) of any hold-up and determine how best to proceed, having particular regard to paragraph 15.21 and 15.22 of the PCT International Search and Preliminary Examination Guidelines.

Even if the search examiner is competent to carry out the search and/or classification in relation to a search area (whether first or secondary IPC) that is the responsibility of another section, they should consider including an examiner from the other section in the 3 person search strategy team for guidance, and should certainly do so if they have serious doubts. The aim is to carry out a search so as to produce the best result for the applicant in a way which is the most efficient for IP Australia. When seeking guidance, the search examiner should, in the interests of efficiency, at least make suggestions as to any possible classification marks.

The same principle applies where the claims of an application span multiple technologies (perhaps involving multiple inventions), some of which are the responsibility of one or more other sections.  From the outset the other section(s) should be consulted in the classification and searching of the international application, and examiners from the other section(s) should be considered for inclusion in the 3-person search strategy team (see Three Person Team (3PT)).

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