The PCT‑EPO Guidelines are intended to be complementary to, but not a substitute for, the PCT ISPE1 and RO Guidelines, as well as the PCT Applicant's Guide ("WIPO PCT Guide") and the Euro-PCT Guide2 ("PCT procedure at the EPO, [International phase and entry into the European phase], Guide for applicants").
The ISPE Guidelines published by WIPO set out in detail the procedures and criteria to be followed by all International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authorities. Since practice varies amongst different authorities these Guidelines provide some degrees of freedom as to which procedure/criteria can be used. Such different criteria are listed in the ISPE Guidelines in appendices to the respective chapters or defined within a specific paragraph. Generally, the EPO will use the same criteria when searching and examining an international application as would have been used in the European procedure. This means that where the ISPE Guidelines are either silent or give no guidance on a particular topic, then the equivalent provisions of the EP Guidelines are applied mutatis mutandis to PCT search and preliminary examination. A list of policy options is provided in section 3.2 below, Annex II.