EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE
Information from the EPO
Notice from the European Patent Office dated 25 July 2018 concerning the updating of the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office
By decision of the President of the EPO dated 25 July 2018 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 2018, will be published as a complete November 2018 edition which will supersede the November 2017 edition.
The new Guidelines will be published electronically and will be available in all three official languages on the EPO website at 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. A number of amendments have been made in the light of decisions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and the other boards of appeal. Part A has been updated to include payment by credit card as a new payment method and to reflect the changes to the Arrangements for deposit accounts which entered into force on 1 December 2017. Part A now also includes a reference to the validation agreements with Tunisia and Cambodia that entered into force on 1 December 2017 and 1 March 2018 respectively. In Part F, the chapter relating to non-unity, as well as some of the sub-sections addressing clarity of the claims, have been thoroughly revised. The same applies to Part G, particularly to the sections in respect of the patentability of mathematical methods and schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business. In those sections, new sub-sections, e.g. relating to artificial intelligence and machine learning, have been created to define the relevant patentability criteria more precisely. Furthermore, a number of clarifications and updates regarding EPO practice have been added to Parts C, D, E and H, e.g. addressing the apportionment and fixing of costs in opposition proceedings (Part D-IX).
The new edition of the Guidelines also reflects comments and proposals received from users.
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. Versions of the Guidelines in PDF format – including a clean copy and a version showing all modifications – are also available on the website.