The search and examination practice and procedure as regards PCT applications, as far as the international phase is concerned, are not the subject of these Guidelines, but are dealt with in the PCT International Search and Preliminary Examination Guidelines. Whenever considered appropriate, options given in the latter Guidelines and the way they are dealt with by the European Patent Office when acting as Receiving Office, International Searching Authority or International Preliminary Examining Authority are the subject of separate notices published in the Official Journal of the EPO and on the EPO website. It is important to note that Art. 150 EPC states that in case of conflict between the PCT and the EPC, the provisions of the PCT prevail.
These Guidelines are addressed primarily to EPO staff but it is hoped that they will also be of assistance to the parties to the proceedings and patent practitioners, since the success of the European patent system depends on the good cooperation between the parties and their representatives on the one hand and the EPO on the other.
It should be noted also that the Guidelines do not constitute legal provisions. For the ultimate authority on practice in the EPO, it is necessary to refer firstly to the European Patent Convention itself including the Implementing Regulations, the Protocol on the Interpretation of Article 69 EPC, the Protocol on Centralisation, the Protocol on Recognition, the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities and the Rules relating to Fees, and secondly to the interpretation put upon the EPC by the Boards of Appeal and the Enlarged Board of Appeal.