EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 4 August 2017 concerning the updating of the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office
By decision of the President of the EPO dated 4 August 2017 and pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Examination have been amended in line with the EPO's policy of updating them on an annual basis. The amended Guidelines, which will enter into force on 1 November 2017, will be published as a complete "November 2017" edition which will supersede the November 2016 edition.
The new Guidelines will be published electronically and will be available in all three official languages on the EPO website at http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/guidelines.html, where they can be downloaded free of charge. In view of the frequent revision of the Guidelines, the print version has been discontinued.
In order to serve the public interest in making the amendments available as soon as possible, an advance "preview" version of the Guidelines in English will be published on the EPO website in October.
Amendments have been made to all eight parts of the Guidelines. For example:
Part B incorporates the EPO's new service for issuing a provisional opinion together with the partial (supplementary) search report. Part G has been supplemented with (updated) examples in various sections; Parts F and G also reflect the latest Administrative Council decision on the patentability of plant- and animal-related inventions and the corresponding changes to Rules 27(b) and 28 EPC. In addition, some new chapters have been inserted. Thus Part C now includes relevant information about "Summons to oral proceedings as a first action", and Part E has been supplemented with a detailed description of the EPO's handling of enquiries and complaints as well as the consolidation of proceedings by the Examining, Opposition or Legal Division. A chapter dealing with correction of errors under Rule 140 EPC during pending opposition proceedings has been added to Part H. A number of clarifications and updates regarding EPO practice have been added to Part A and Part E, for example concerning the start of the priority period or the cancellation or maintenance of oral proceedings or the hearing of witnesses.
Particular attention is drawn to the comprehensive revision of the chapters on "Further processing" and "Re-establishment of rights" in Part E, where, in view of the established case law, clarification has been provided on the number of fees for further processing or re-establishment of rights that are payable for each omitted act.
A full list of the sections which have been amended, together with corresponding hyperlinks, is available on the EPO website. Within each section of the HTML version, the actual amendments can be viewed by ticking the "Show modifications" box in the top right-hand corner. On the website there are also two versions of the Guidelines in PDF format, one showing all modifications and one clean copy.