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Guidelines for Examination

 
 

2.1 Overview

The main body of these Guidelines comprises the following eight parts:

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; and

Part H:

Amendments and Corrections

Parts A and C deal deals with the procedures for formalities and substantive examination, respectively. Thus, in particular, Part A covers formalities examination in grant and opposition proceedings. Part D deals with procedures relevant to opposition proceedings.Note that Parts C and D no longer relate to aspects of substantive law (the requirements which the application or patent and the invention to which it relates must satisfy), but rather relate onlyPart B deals with search matters. Parts C and D relate to procedures to be followed in examination and opposition proceedings respectively. Substantive requirements are nowdealt with in newParts F, G and H (see below).

Part E deals with procedural matters relevant to several or all of the stages in procedure at the EPO. Part F deals with the requirements which the application must fulfil other than patentability, in particular 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 deals with the requirements relating to amendments and corrections. It relates in particular to questions of admissibility (Rule 80 and Rule 137) and compliance with Art. 123(2) and (3), Rule 139 and Rule 140.

The following notices relating to this and other recent updates have been published in the Official Journal of the European Patent Office:

Re November 2014 update:

OJ EPO 2014, A88

Re September 2013 update:

OJ EPO 2013, 447;

Re June 2012 update:

OJ EPO 2012, 420;

Re April 2010 update:

OJ EPO 2010, 230;

Re April 2009 update:

OJ EPO 2009, 336;

Re December 2007 update:

OJ EPO 2007, 589;

Re June 2005 update:

OJ EPO 2005, 440;

Re December 2003 update:

OJ EPO 2003, 582;

Re October 2001 update:

OJ EPO 2001, 464;

Re February 2001 update:

OJ EPO 2001, 115;

Re June 2000 update:

OJ EPO 2000, 228;

Re July 1999 update:

OJ EPO 1999, 510.

It will be noted that each Part of the Guidelines is divided into Chapters, each sub-divided into numbered sections which are further sub-divided into paragraphs. Cross-references to other paragraphs include the relevant letter of that Part, followed by the Chapter number (a Roman numeral) and then the section and paragraph numbers (thus, e.g. C‑V, 4.6 would be used if it were desired to refer to paragraph 4.6 of Chapter V of Part C).

Marginal references to articles and rules without further identification indicate the Articles or Rules of the European Patent Convention which provides authority for what is stated. It is believed that such references avoid the need for extensive quotation from the EPC itself.

It goes without saying that whenever "his" or "he" is used in relation to examiner, applicant, inventor, etc., this should be understood as "her or his" and "she or he", respectively.