Guidelines for Examination
List of sections amended in 2016 revision

PART A

A‑I, 2

Responsibility for formalities examination: updated OJ references

A‑II, 1.3

Filing of applications by means of electronic communication: updated OJ references

A‑II, 1.6

Debit orders for deposit accounts held with the EPO: updated OJ references

A‑II, 3.1

“Receipt; confirmation”: updated OJ references

A‑II, 4.1.3.1

Clarified requirements for filing divisional applications by reference to a previously filed application

A‑II, 5.4.2

The missing parts are completely contained in the claimed priority: amended in view of J 12/14

A‑II, 5.5

Withdrawal of late‑filed missing drawings or missing parts of the description: clarified the content of the A-publication

A‑III, 3.2

Documents making up the application, replacement documents, translations: clarified the different procedures followed by the Receiving Section and the Examining Division

A‑III, 6.7

Copy of the previous application (priority document): clarified requirements for filing priority documents in electronic form

A‑III, 6.8.6

Declaration replacing the translation:

– 
clarified meaning of the wording “exact translation” 
– 
clarified procedure in case an application claims multiple priorities 

A‑III, 9

Claims fee: clarified that communications under Rule 45(2) or Rule 112(1) cannot be waived

A‑III, 12.1

Added the validation agreement with the Republic of Moldova

A‑III, 12.2

Time limit for payment of extension and validation fees: removed instructions for applications whose period for payment of extension fees expired before 1 January 2010

A‑III, 13.2

Additional fee: clarified treatment of pages with formal deficiencies

A‑IV, 1.3.1

“Where and how to file a divisional application?”:

– 
updated OJ references 
– 
amended procedure to file divisional applications by reference, in view of amended Guidelines A‑II, 4.1.3.1

A‑IV, 1.8

Search, publication and request for examination of divisional applications: clarified when the A-publication for a divisional will take place

A‑IV, 2.2.3

Legal nature and effects of the stay: updated OJ references

A‑VI, 2.2

Time limit for filing the request for examination: updated OJ references

A‑VIII, 2.5

Filing of subsequent documents: clarified modalities to file subsequent documents with the EPO

A‑VIII, 3.2

Documents forming part of the European patent application: updated OJ references

A‑VIII, 3.3

Form of signature: updated OJ references

A‑X, 2

Methods of payment: updated OJ references

A‑X, 4.2.1

General remarks: updated OJ references

A‑X, 4.2.3

Debiting the deposit account: clarified how the order of priority for processing debit orders is determined

A‑X, 5.2.4

Renewal fees: clarified how to calculate the six-month period where the renewal fees can be validly paid if an additional fee is paid within the same period

A‑XI, 2.1

Amended in view of the new PACE programme (OJ 2015, A93)

A‑XI, 2.6

Implementation of Rule 128(5) about publication of bibliographic data before publication of the application

PART B

B‑II, 1.1

New section clarifying when telephone conversations and informal interviews between the search division and applicant are possible

B‑III, 3.5

Anticipation of amendments to claims: amended in view of decision T 1679/10

B‑X, 8

Restriction of the subject of the search: clarified that, if necessary, a full reasoning is provided in the search opinion

B‑X, 9.1.3

Cited documents not in an official language: clarified that, if available, a full translation of these documents will be normally sent to the applicant

B‑XI, 3.2.1

Reasoned objections: last paragraph redrafted to underline the need for consistency between the search report and the written opinion

B‑XI, 3.2.2

New section signalling the possibility for examiners to make positive statements on patentability

B‑XI, 3.4

Extent of first analysis: added cross reference to B‑XI, 3.2.2

B‑XI, 3.8

Making suggestions: signalling the possibility for examiners to suggest way to overcome raised objections

B‑XI, 8

Reaction to the extended European search report (EESR): instructions on when direct contact between the search division and applicant are possible transferred to B‑II, 1.1

B‑XI, 9

Art. 124 and the utilisation scheme: updated OJ references

PART C

C‑III, 4.1.2

New section signalling the possibility for examiners to make positive statements on patentability

C‑IV, 3

Further action upon examination of replies: signalling the possibility for examiners to suggest way to overcome raised objections

C‑V, 15.2

Decision by means of a standard form: explicitly mentioned that in order to issue this type of decision, all arguments raised by the applicant must have been addressed in previous communications

C‑VI, 2

Influencing the speed of examination proceedings – PACE: updated OJ references

C‑VI, 3

Further ways to accelerate examination: updated OJ references

PART D

D‑III, 3.2

Notices of opposition filed electronically: updated OJ references

D‑III, 3.4

Signature of the notice of opposition: updated OJ references

D‑IV, 2

Amended in view of the introduction of the streamlined opposition proceedings (OJ 2016, A42 & A43)

D‑IV, 5.3

Amended in view of the introduction of the streamlined opposition proceedings (OJ 2016, A42 & A43)

D‑IV, 5.4

Amended in view of the introduction of the streamlined opposition proceedings (OJ 2016, A42 & A43)

D‑V, 4

Insufficient disclosure of the invention: clarified how to assess what an application discloses under Art. 100(b)

D‑VI, 3.2

Amended in view of the introduction of the streamlined opposition proceedings (OJ 2016, A42 & A43)

D‑VI, 7.2.3

Amended in view of new version of Rule 82 entered into force on 01.05.2016

D‑VIII, 1.2.2

Amended in view of new version of Rule 82 entered into force on 01.05.2016

PART E

E‑I, 2.3

Notification by postal services: amended in view of the pilot project on electronic notifications

E‑I, 2.4

New section providing details about electronic notifications (pilot project)

E‑II, 1

General: clarified relationship between the right to oral proceedings and the right to be heard

E‑II, 6

Summons to oral proceedings: amended in view of the introduction of the streamlined opposition proceedings (OJ 2016, A42 & A43)

E‑II, 8.7.1

Amended in view of new version of Rule 82 entered into force on 01.05.2016

E‑II, 8.7.2

New section dealing with handwritten amendments in oral proceedings in front of the examining division

E‑II, 8.7.3

New section dealing with handwritten amendments in oral proceedings in front of the opposition division in view of new version of Rule 82 entered into force on 01.05.2016

E‑II, 11.1.1

Discretion regarding grant of requests for video‑conferences: clarified that no appealable decision is issued on the matter

E‑V, 3

Clarified treatment of observations by third parties filed after a decision has been issued in examination proceedings or when proceedings are no longer pending

E‑VI, 3

Stay of proceedings when a referral to the Enlarged Board of Appeal is pending: clarified the procedural steps for staying the proceedings

E‑VII, 1.1

Determination of time limits: clarified the meaning of the term “time limit”

E‑VII, 1.6

Extension of a time limit: amended in view of the introduction of

– 
the streamlined opposition proceedings (OJ 2016, A42 & A43)
– 
the new PACE programme (OJ 2015, A93)

E‑VII, 1.7

Late receipt of documents: updated OJ references

E‑VII, 3

Re-establishment of rights: the section dedicated to re-establishment of rights has been substantially expanded to cover in detail:

– 
Admissibility of the request (E‑VII, 3.1):
– 
Time limits covered (E‑VII, 3.1.1)
– 
Entitlement to file the request (E‑VII, 3.1.2)
– 
Form of the request and applicable time limit (E‑VII, 3.1.3)
– 
Substantiation of the request (E‑VII, 3.1.4)
– 
Merit of the request (E‑VII, 3.2)
– 
Decision on re‑establishment of rights (E‑VII, 3.3)

E‑VII, 4;

E‑VII, 4.1;

E‑VII, 4.2

Accelerated prosecution of European patent applications: amended in view of the new PACE programme (OJ 2015, A93)

E‑VII, 7.1

Withdrawal of application or designation: clarified that an application can be withdrawn as long as it is pending

E‑VII, 7.3

Statement of withdrawal: clarified when an unqualified and unambiguous withdrawal becomes effective

E‑VIII, 2.3.2

Physical requirements of applications entering the regional phase in front of the EPO: clarified that Rule 11 PCT is applied by the EPO

E‑VIII, 2.8

Early processing: clarified that the EPO will request a copy of the international application and of the IPRP, if necessary

E‑X

New chapter providing details on the procedure to be followed if the impartiality of the examining or opposition division is challenged

E‑XIII, 3

Transfer of the European patent application: clarified

– 
that the signatures of all parties are needed 
– 
consequences of minor deficiencies in the request 
– 
consequences of a transfer entered in the European Patent register 

PART F

F‑III, 6.1

Biological material: clarified that the geographical origin of biological material should be included in the application

F‑III, 6.3

Deposit of biological material: clarified time limit for converting to a deposit within the purview of the Budapest Treaty

F‑IV, 3.9;

F‑IV, 3.9.1;

F‑IV, 3.9.2

New sections on how to assess claims directed to computer-implemented inventions (CII) when:

– 
either all method steps can be fully implemented by generic data processing means 
– 
or method steps require specific data processing means and/or require additional technical devices as essential features 

F‑IV, 4.12

Product-by-process claim: clarified requirements for allowability and the limitation of the claim’s subject-matter due to the purpose of the process

PART G

G‑II, 3.6

Programs for computers: amended in view of new section F‑IV, 3.9

G‑II, 5.4.2

Essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals: amended in view of decisions G 1/08, G 2/07, T 356/93 and T 1729/06

G‑II, 5.4.2.1

Clarified the examples of essentially biological processes excluded from patentability

G‑VI, 7.1.2

Therapeutic uses pursuant to Art. 54(5): clarified that two forms of claims are possible

G‑VI, 7.1.3

Diagnostic uses pursuant to Art. 54(5): clarified that two forms of claims are possible

G‑VI, 7.1.4

Surgical uses pursuant to Art. 54(5): clarified that two forms of claims are possible

G‑VI, 7.1.5

Dependent claims pursuant to Art. 54(5): added reference to T 2106/10 and clarified that two forms of claims are possible

G‑VII, 5.4.1

Formulation of the objective technical problem: clarified that the objective technical problem must not to contain pointers to the technical solution

G‑VII, 5.4.2;

G‑VII, 5.4.2.1;

G‑VII, 5.4.2.2;

G‑VII, 5.4.2.3;

G‑VII, 5.4.2.4

New sections introducing four examples aiming at illustrating the application of the problem-solution approach to claims comprising technical and non‑technical features

PART H

H‑II, 2.2

Amendments after receipt of the search report: clarified procedure for filing these amendments

H‑II, 2.3

Amendments after receipt of the first communication: clarified reasons for not admitting these amendments

H‑II, 2.5.1

Criteria for admitting such amendments: deleted reference to reservations under Art. 167(2) EPC1973

H‑II, 2.5.2

Further course of proceedings: amended in view of the possibility of filing a Rule 71(3) waiver

H‑II, 2.5.3

Exceptional case where amendments must be admitted: clarified procedure in case a Rule 71(3) waiver has been filed

H‑II, 2.6

Further requests for amendment after approval: deleted reference to reservations under Art. 167(2) EPC1973

H‑II, 2.7

Clarified approach to late-filed requests

H‑II, 2.7.1

Clarified “clear allowability” criterion

H‑II, 2.7.2

Deleted in view of amendments in H‑II, 2.7 and H‑II, 2.7.1

H‑II, 7.1

Restriction to a single, searched invention: clarified consequences of withdrawal of a non-unity objection by the examining division

H‑II, 7.2

Restriction to an unsearched invention: clarified application of G 2/92

H‑III, 4

Different texts in respect of different Contracting States: clarified that it is not possible to have different text in respect of validation states

H‑III, 4.2

Different text in respect of the state of the art according to Art. 54(3) and Art. 54(4) EPC 1973: clarified that it applies also to opposition proceedings

H‑III, 4.2.1

Deleted

H‑IV, 2.3.4

International applications: clarified that a copy of the documents originally filed in the PCT phase can always be obtained from the International Bureau.

H‑V, 4.1

“Undisclosed” disclaimers: amended in view of decisions T 1441/13, T 1808/13 and T 2130/11

H‑V, 4.2

“Disclosed” disclaimers: amended in view of decision T 2130/11

H‑V, 7

Changes in claim category: clarified that changing the category of a claim could infringe Art. 123(2)

H‑VI, 2

Corrections of errors under Rule 139: added cross-references to other possibilities for correction

H‑VI, 2.1

Admissibility of corrections under Rule 139: specified further limitations for these requests in view of J 16/08 and J 6/91

H‑VI, 3.1

Admissibility of corrections: updated OJ references

H‑VI, 4

Errors in publication and formatting/editing errors:

clarified that formalities officers are responsible for the correction of publication errors; 
– 
if any correction is allowed, a corrected version of the text of the patent will be published. 

EDITORIAL CHANGES

General part

General Part, 2.1; General Part, 2.2; General Part, 3; General Part, 4; General Part, 5

PART A

A‑II, 1.1; A‑II, 4.1.1; A‑II, 4.1.4; A‑III, 4.1; A‑III, 5.1; A‑III, 6.5; A‑III, 6.8.2; A‑III, 6.8.3; A‑IV, 1.1; A‑IV, 1.1.1; A‑VI, 1.4; A‑VII, 2; A‑VII, 3.4; A‑VII, 8; A‑VIII, 1.3; A‑VIII, 2.1; A‑IX, 3; A‑X, 4.3; A‑X, 9.2.1; A‑XI, 4

PART B

B‑I, 2.2.1; B‑VI, 4.1; B‑VI, 4.1.2; B‑VI, 5.5; B‑VII, 1.2.1; B‑VIII, 2; B‑VIII, 3; B‑X, 11.6; B‑XI, 3.2

PART C

C‑III, 3.1.3; C‑III, 4.1; C‑III, 4.1.1; C‑V, 1.1; C‑V, 4.11; C‑V, 10; C‑VII, 2.4; C‑VII, 2.6; C‑VII, 2.7.5

PART D

D‑I, 2; D‑I, 3; D‑I, 4; D‑I, 5; D‑I, 6; D‑I, 7; D‑II, 2.1; D‑III, 5; D‑III, 6; D‑IV, 1.1; D‑IV, 1.2.1; D‑IV, 1.2.2; D‑IV, 1.2.2.1; D‑IV, 1.2.2.2; D‑IV, 1.4.1; D‑IV, 1.4.2; D‑IV, 1.5; D‑IV, 3; D‑IV, 4; D‑IV, 5.1; D‑IV, 5.2; D‑IV, 5.5; D‑IV, 5.6; D‑V, 2.2; D‑V, 6.2; D‑VI, 1; D‑VI, 2; D‑VI, 2.1; D‑VI, 2.2; D‑VI, 3.1; D‑VI, 4; D‑VI, 4.1; D‑VI, 4.2; D‑VI, 7.2.1; D‑VII, 2; D‑VII, 3.1; D‑VII, 3.2; D‑VII, 4; D‑VII, 4.1; D‑VII, 4.2.1; D‑VII, 4.4; D‑VII, 5.1; D‑VII, 5.2; D‑VII, 6; D‑VIII, 1.2.1; D‑VIII, 1.2.4; D‑VIII, 1.2.5; D‑VIII, 1.4.1; D‑IX, 1.1; D‑IX, 1.2; D‑IX, 1.4; D‑X, 2.2; D‑X, 4.3; D‑X, 4.4

PART E

E‑I, 2.5; E‑I, 2.6; E‑II, 7; E‑II, 7.1; E‑II, 7.2; E‑II, 7.3; E‑II, 8.11; E‑VII, 1.4; E‑VII, 2; E‑VII, 5; E‑VII, 6; E‑VII, 7; E‑VII, 7.2; E‑VII, 7.4; E‑VIII, 1; E‑VIII, 2.1.1; E‑VIII, 2.1.2; E‑VIII, 2.3.1; E‑VIII, 2.3.11; E‑VIII, 2.4.1; E‑VIII, 2.5.1; E‑VIII, 2.5.2; E‑VIII, 3.2; E‑VIII, 3.3.5; E‑XIII, 1; E‑XIII, 6.1

PART F

F‑II, 4.5; F‑III, 8; F‑IV, 3.8; F‑IV, 4.13; F‑IV, 4.14

PART G

G‑II, 2; G‑VII, 5.4

PART H

H‑I; H‑II, 2.5.4; H‑II, 3.2; H‑II, 3.3; H‑II, 4; H‑II, 5; H‑II, 6.2; H‑II, 7.3; H‑III, 2.1.1; H‑III, 2.1.3; H‑III, 2.1.4; H‑III, 3.1.4; H‑III, 3.3.1.1; H‑III, 4.3; H‑III, 4.3.1; H‑III, 4.3.2; H‑III, 4.3.3; H‑III, 4.4; H‑IV, 2.2.8; H‑V, 2.5; H‑V, 3.5; H‑V, 7.3; H‑V, 8; H‑VI, 2.2

 

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