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.
In the course of restructuring the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office (hereinafter "the Guidelines") in 2012, the European Patent Office decided to allow for annual revisions in order to keep the Guidelines in line with legal and procedural developments. The 2013 update of the Guidelines has been prepared accordingly and entered into force on 20 September 2013 as announced in the Notice from the EPO dated 3 September 2013.
The following eight-part structure of the Guidelines has been retained:
Parts A, B and C deal with the procedures for formalities examination, search and substantive examination, respectively. Part A covers the examination of formalities in grant and opposition proceedings. Part D deals with procedural matters relevant at the opposition stage. Parts B, C and D do not cover matters of substantive law (the requirements which an application or patent and the invention to which it relates must satisfy), but rather only the procedures to be followed at the search, examination and opposition stages, respectively. Substantive requirements are dealt with in Parts F, G and H.
Part E deals with procedural matters relevant at more than one stage in the EPO procedure and all the information concerning the Euro-PCT procedure is also in this part. Part F concerns requirements other than patentability which the application must meet, in particular unity of invention (Article 82 EPC), sufficiency of disclosure (Article 83 EPC), clarity (Article 84 EPC) and the right to priority (Articles 87 to 89 EPC). Part G covers the patentability requirements set out in Articles 52 to 57 EPC, in particular exceptions to patentability (Articles 52(2) and 53 EPC), novelty (Article 54 EPC), inventive step (Article 56 EPC) and industrial application (Article 57 EPC). Part H deals with requirements relating to amendments and corrections, in particular issues of admissibility (Rules 80 and 137 EPC) and compliance with Article 123(2) and (3) EPC and Rules 139 and 140 EPC.
The revised Guidelines for Examination (September 2013) are available online in the EPO's three official languages in both PDF and HTML format. They are also issued in printed paper format. All these versions are revised annually, and no intermediate changes are made to any of them.
Amendments in the 2013 revision have been made in all eight parts in order to bring the text into line with legal and procedural developments, and they can be viewed in the following ways, depending on the publication format.
In the PDF and print versions, insertions and deletions compared with the previous version are indicated in the margins by vertical and dual horizontal lines, respectively.
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 September 2013 edition of the Guidelines is the only valid official version, and supersedes the June 2012 edition as from 20 September 2013.
Printed copies of the Guidelines for Examination (September 2013 update) can be requested using this order form.