EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 24 August 2017 concerning the updating of the Guidelines for Search and Examination at the European Patent Office as PCT Authority (PCT-EPO Guidelines)
By decision of the President of the EPO dated 24 August 2017 and pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Search and Examination at the European Patent Office as PCT Authority (PCT-EPO Guidelines) have been amended in line with the EPO's policy of updating them on an annual basis. The amended PCT-EPO 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.
Like the previous editions, the "November 2017" edition of the PCT-EPO Guidelines will be published only in electronic form and will be available in all three official languages on the EPO website at http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/guidelines-pct.html, where it can be downloaded free of charge.
In order to serve the public interest in making the amendments available as soon as possible, an advance "preview" version of the PCT-EPO Guidelines in English will be published on the EPO website in October.
Amendments have been made to all parts of the PCT-EPO Guidelines. The major change is the expansion of Part A, which now includes a comprehensive chapter on fees. Moreover, Part B has been amended, for instance in order to cover the new service by which the EPO issues a provisional opinion on the patentability of the invention first mentioned in the claims together with the invitation to pay additional search fees and the partial search results, and to reflect the lifting of the restriction whereby the examiner could not make explicit reference to the PCT Direct letter or its content. In general, amendments have been made to several parts, such as Parts F and G, with a view to clarifying the EPO's practice, for instance where the PCT International Search and Preliminary Examination Guidelines leave a choice between alternative options. Other amendments aim at further improving the text of the previous edition or at updating it, for instance in order to reflect the amendments to the Regulations under the PCT which entered into force on 1 July 2017. The content of the PCT-EPO Guidelines will continue to be expanded in the next revision.
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 in PDF format, one showing all modifications and one clean copy.