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.

3.1 Replacement or removal of a feature from a claim

The replacement or removal of a feature from a claim does not violate Art. 123(2) if the skilled person would directly and unambiguously recognise that:

the feature was not explained as essential in the disclosure; 
the feature is not, as such, indispensable for the function of the invention in the light of the technical problem the invention serves to solve; and 
the replacement or removal requires no real modification of other features to compensate for the change. 

In case of a replacement by another feature, the replacing feature must of course find support in the original application documents, so as not to contravene Art. 123(2) (see T 331/87).

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