Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office

March 2024 edition 

The Guidelines for Examination in the EPO (EPC Guidelines) give instructions on the practice and procedure to be followed in the various aspects of the examination of European applications and patents in accordance with the European Patent Convention and its Implementing Regulations. The March 2024 edition entered into force on 1 March 2024, superseding the March 2023 edition. The corresponding notice published in the Official Journal (OJ EPO 2024, A9) lists the main updates.

Available formats 

The EPC Guidelines are published in electronic form only and accessible free of charge in the three official languages of the EPO (English, French and German). 

HTML version

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PDF files

Available as a clean copy and a version showing all modifications.

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The EPC Guidelines are structured into eight parts covering every aspect of the patent grant process, including opposition, limitation and revocation procedures, and feature an alphabetical keyword index, an index dedicated to computer-implemented inventions and a list of the sections amended in the 2024 edition. All parts and indexes can be accessed via the Guidelines for Examination web page. 

Feedback on this edition 

The EPO invites users to provide feedback on the most recent edition of the EPC Guidelines in a public consultation each spring; further suggestions for additions or improvements are welcome at any time of the year and may be sent to

Revision cycle 

The EPC Guidelines are revised annually to keep them aligned with the latest legal and procedural developments and to improve their content on the basis of feedback received in the course of the annual public user consultation. All comments are discussed with the SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines, which meets twice a year to come to an agreement on the suggested updates and clarifications. Reports of the meetings are published under Updates on the Guidelines revision cycle web page.