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2.8.2 Contents and Form

Date Published

Abstract Requirements

An abstract must commence on a separate sheet and should be headed "Abstract".  It is preferable that the abstract be on an unnumbered sheet that does not include line numbers.

An abstract must satisfy the requirements of reg 3.3, which are similar to the requirements of an abstract filed under the PCT. In particular, an abstract should be:

  • a concise summary of the technical disclosure as contained in the description, the claims and any drawings, graphics or photographs.
  • preferably in the range of 50 to 150 words. The abstract may contain chemical or mathematical formulae and tables. Wherever applicable, the chemical formula should be given which, among all the formulae contained in the specification, best characterises the invention.

In addition:

  • each main technical feature mentioned in the abstract and illustrated by a drawing, graphic or photograph in the specification must be followed by a reference sign placed between parentheses.
  • an abstract must not contain statements on the alleged merits or value of the invention or on its speculative application.
  • an abstract may be based on a claim of the specification, provided the claim satisfies the requirements outlined above.

Drafting and Review of Abstract

In practice, examiners are required to draft an abstract when indexing an application if the applicant has failed to include an abstract. Examiners will also be required to draft an abstract if the applicant files a divisional application, but fails to file an accompanying abstract.  When drafting an abstract, examiners should take into consideration the abstract requirements outlined above.  The abstract should serve as an efficient scanning tool for searching purposes and, in particular, allow an assessment from the information it contains of whether there is a need to consult a full copy of the specification.  The procedures for preparing an abstract are outlined in 5.6.6 Creating an Abstract.  

Examiners are not required to formally review an abstract that has been provided by the applicant, in order to assess its compliance with reg 3.3.  In the specific case of PCT national phase applications, reviewing and redrafting of the abstract should not be undertaken, as the abstract will have been established in the international phase.  

In the case of national route applications (being applications which have been filed as a national application, rather than as a PCT international application which has then entered the national phase), examiners should only redraft the abstract if it is manifestly deficient to the extent that it is unable to fulfil its purpose.  

Where an abstract is redrafted prior to becoming OPI, the requirements of reg 3.4(2) and reg 3.4(3), namely providing the applicant with a draft copy of the abstract, are met by publishing the abstract at OPI.  The applicant is given a period of one month in which to provide comments for the examiner to consider.  The abstract is then amended and republished if necessary.  Similarly, if the abstract is redrafted between OPI and acceptance, publication of the abstract at acceptance as the abridgement affords an opportunity for the applicant to provide comments and for the abstract to be amended and republished where required.

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