Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office



November 2015 edition

The Guidelines for Examination give instructions on the practice and procedure to be followed in the various aspects of the examination of European applications and patents in accordance with the European Patent Convention and its Implementing Regulations.

Content description

By decision of the President of the EPO pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC dated 18 August 2014, the Guidelines for Examination have been amended. They apply as from 1 November 2015 as announced in the Notice from the EPO dated 28 July 2015 (OJ EPO 2015, A74).

The Guidelines have the following eight-part structure:

  • Part A: Guidelines for Formalities Examination
  • Part B: Guidelines for Search
  • Part C: Guidelines for Procedural Aspects of Substantive Examination
  • Part D: Guidelines for Opposition and Limitation/Revocation Procedures
  • Part E: Guidelines on General Procedural Matters
  • Part F: The European Patent Application
  • Part G: Patentability
  • Part H: Amendments and Corrections

Part A describes the procedures for formalities examination in grant and opposition proceedings. Part B deals with search matters. Parts C and D relate to procedures to be followed in examination and opposition proceedings respectively.

Part E deals with procedural matters relevant to several or all of the stages in procedure at the EPO.

Information concerning the Euro-PCT procedure can also be found in this part.

Substantive requirements are explained in Parts F, G and H:

  • Part F defines the requirements which the application must fulfil other than patentability, such as unity of invention (Art. 82), sufficiency of disclosure (Art. 83), clarity (Art. 84) and the right to priority (Art. 87 to Art. 89).
  • Part G deals with the requirements of patentability provided for in Art. 52 to Art. 57, in particular exclusions from patentability (Art. 52(2) and Art. 53), novelty (Art. 54), inventive step (Art. 56) and industrial application (Art. 57).
  • Part H defines the requirements relating to amendments and corrections, in particular to questions of admissibility (Rule 80 and Rule 137) and compliance with Art. 123(2) and (3), Rule 139 and Rule 140.

Available formats and amendments

The revised Guidelines for Examination (November 2015) are available online in the EPO's three official languages in both PDF and HTML format. They are also issued in printed paper format. Due to the frequent revisions, you are advised to use the online version, which always publishes the latest valid version in force.

Amendments in the 2015 revision have been made in all eight parts in order to bring the text into line with legal and procedural developments. The amendments can be viewed in the following ways, depending on the publication format.

In the HTML publication, modifications can be viewed by ticking the "Show modifications" box in the upper right corner, which displays inserted text with a green background and deleted text in red strikethrough font. For sections in which no changes have been made, the tick box is greyed out.

To search within full-text HTML versions of EPO legal texts, use our advanced website search. You can limit your search to one or more of these texts.

Important notice: The November 2015 edition of the Guidelines is the only valid official version, and supersedes the November 2014 edition as from 1 November 2015.


Printed copies of the Guidelines for Examination can be requested using this order form.

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