This revised version of the Guidelines for Examination will apply as from 1 November 2015. Until then, the September 2014 edition of the Guidelines remains valid.

4.1 Matter contrary to "ordre public" or morality

Any invention the commercial exploitation of which would be contrary to "ordre public" or morality is specifically excluded from patentability. The purpose of this is to deny protection to inventions likely to induce riot or public disorder, or to lead to criminal or other generally offensive behaviour (see also F‑II, 7.2). Anti-personnel mines are an obvious example. Examples in the area of biotechnological inventions as laid down in Rule 28 are listed in G‑II, 5.3.

This provision is likely to be invoked only in rare and extreme cases. A fair test to apply is to consider whether it is probable that the public in general would regard the invention as so abhorrent that the grant of patent rights would be inconceivable. If it is clear that this is the case, an objection should be raised under Art. 53(a); otherwise not. The mere possibility of abuse of an invention is not sufficient to deny patent protection pursuant to Art. 53(a) EPC if the invention can also be exploited in a way which does not and would not infringe "ordre public" and morality (see T 866/01). If difficult legal questions arise in this context, then refer to C‑VIII, 7.

Where it is found that the claims relate in part to such excluded subject-matter, this may have led to the issuing of a partial European or supplementary European search report under Rule 63 (see B‑VIII, 1, 3.1 and 3.2). In such cases, in the absence of appropriate amendment and/or convincing arguments provided by the applicant in his response to the invitation under Rule 63(1) (see B‑VIII, 3.2) or to the search opinion under Rule 70a (see B‑XI, 8), an objection under Rule 63(3) will also arise (see H‑II, 5).

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