INFORMATION FROM THE EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 21 December 2000 concerning amendment of the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office
By decision of the President of the EPO dated 21 December 2000, the Guidelines for Examination1 have been amended pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC. The amendments are being published in the form of replacement sheets2 and have been made after consulting the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO).
The purpose of the present amendments is to bring the Guidelines into line with the current articles and rules of the EPC relating to biotechnological inventions, in order to give examiners clear guidance as to the examination of such inventions, including any possible ethical aspects thereof.
The amendments take into account in particular the following earlier developments in European patent law relating to biotechnological inventions:
- European Union Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions;
- Decision of the Administrative Council of the EPO of 16 June 1999 to implement the principles of European Union Directive 98/44/EC in the EPC by inserting into Part II of the EPC Implementing Regulations a new Chapter Vl ("Biotechnological inventions", Rules 23b to 23e) and by amending Rule 28(6); and
- Enlarged Board of Appeal decision G 1/98 of 20 December 1999 (OJ EPO 2000, 111).
The opportunity has also been taken to remove some editorial and linguistic inconsistencies.
Two new sections - C-IV, 2a ("Biotechnological inventions") and C-IV, 4.6 - have been added, and the following parts have been amended:
- A-IV, 4.1;
- C-II, 4.12;
- C-II, 6.1 to 6.3;
- C-IV, 2.3 ("Discoveries"); and
- C-IV, 3.1 to 3.6 (including new sections 3.3a, 3.3b, 3.4.1 and 3.4.2).
The Parts A and C lists of contents have been updated accordingly.
The present amendments only concern biotechnological inventions; they do not include any of those concerning patentability of computer programs which were announced in OJ EPO 1999, 609 (see editor's note).