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.

5. Problem‑and‑solution approach

In order to assess inventive step in an objective and predictable manner, the so-called "problem-and-solution approach" should be applied. Thus deviation from this approach should be exceptional.

In the problem-and-solution approach, there are three main stages:

determining the "closest prior art", 
establishing the "objective technical problem" to be solved, and 
considering whether or not the claimed invention, starting from the closest prior art and the objective technical problem, would have been obvious to the skilled person. 

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