​​Referral on claim interpretation (G1/24)

​​For legal certainty and in the interests of all stakeholders, the EPO will continue examination and opposition proceedings while the referral on claim interpretation is pending before the Enlarged Board of Appeal​. 

​​With decision T 439/22 of 24 June 2024, a referral was made to the Enlarged Board of Appeal seeking to clarify the legal basis for interpreting patent claims for the purpose of assessing patentability, whether and under which circumstances the description and figures may be taken into account when interpreting a patent claim and, finally, the extent to which a patent can serve as its own dictionary. The exact referral questions can be found in decision T 439/22. While the referral concerns opposition proceedings, it may also affect proceedings before examining divisions.  

​Considering the need for legal certainty, ensuring the functioning of the EPO and the interests of all stakeholders, the President has decided that proceedings in examination and opposition should continue while the referral is pending. Examining and opposition divisions will therefore continue to apply the practice set out in the Guidelines for Examination in the EPO, according to which they will, so far as possible, require a claim to be amended such that, in cases where the description gives a specific meaning to words used in the claims, the meaning is clear from the wording of the claim alone.

​The Enlarged Board of Appeal is the highest judicial authority of the EPO's independent judiciary and has the task of ensuring the uniform application of the EPC. The EPO is awaiting the decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal and will immediately implement its findings in the practice of examining and opposition divisions.