W. Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office
In accordance with Art. 10(2)(a) of the European Patent Convention (EPC), the President of the European Patent Office (EPO) adopted, effective as at 1 June 1978, the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office. Since the decision of the President dated 28 July 2015 the Guidelines have been amended pursuant to Art. 10(2) EPC in accordance with the policy of revising them annually. The latest version of the Guidelines is the March 2022 edition, second edition. It was drawn up in line with the new revision-cycle arrangements, which ensure greater user involvement. This amended version of the Guidelines entered into force on 1 March 2022 and supersedes the March 2021 edition; the March 2021 edition superseded the November 2019 edition. It is available online at . Notices giving general information about the changes made in each revision round are published in the OJ: for the November 2015 version in OJ 2015, A74; for the November 2016 version (the last version to be published as a hard copy) in OJ 2016, A76; for the November 2017 version, in OJ 2017, A75; for the November 2018 version, in OJ 2018, A73; for the November 2019 version, in OJ 2019, A81; for the March 2021 version, in OJ 2021, A6; for the March 2022 version, in OJ 2022, A10. Please note that the Guidelines do not constitute legal provisions. For the ultimate authority on practice at the EPO it is necessary to refer firstly to the EPC itself, including the Implementing Regulations, and secondly to the interpretation put upon the EPC by the boards of appeal and the Enlarged Board of Appeal (Guidelines General Part, 3 – March 2022 version). With the exception of important aspects relating to interlocutory revision, the appeals procedure is not dealt with in the Guidelines (Guidelines General Part, 5 – March 2022 version).
Art. 20(2) RPBA 2020 (OJ 2019, A63), just like Art. 20(2) RPBA 2007 before it, stipulates that: "If, in its decision, a Board gives a different interpretation of the Convention to that provided for in the Guidelines, it shall state the grounds for its action if it considers that this decision will be more readily understood in the light of such grounds."
It should be borne in mind that the edition of the Guidelines referred to in the following abstracts of board decisions is that applied by the board in question and may have been worded differently from the March 2022 version. The various different editions of the Guidelines are archived at .