SACEPO members meet to discuss EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines 2024

The SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines (SACEPO WP/G) held its 26th meeting on 10 October 2023, marking the second time members met during this year’s Guidelines revision cycle. During the session, members discussed the proposed updates to the EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines for the 2024 editions. Members commented on the draft versions, which they reviewed during the summer, and filed 167 comments to the EPC Guidelines and 20 comments to the PCT-EPO Guidelines.

Member feedback was generally positive - some proposed updates were clarified, refined and discussed with the members, inter alia those relating to the section “selection of ranges” (G-VI, 7). Regarding the latter, the Office clarified that it would continue to apply its well-established practice to determine novelty of a selection of ranges and monitor further case law developments. Members also focussed on the content of oral proceedings minutes and raised the need to clarify certain aspects of the new notification fiction and calculation of time limits. Members agreed to restrain from proposing further amendments to Guidelines related to the Office’s practice in adapting the description, as this matter may be referred to the Enlarged Board of Appeal.

The members welcomed the clarification of the safeguard for divisional applications with sequence listings to which WIPO Standard ST.26 applies and the EPO’s decision to exclude the pages of the parent application’s ST.25 sequence listing filed as part of the divisional application from the calculation of the additional “page” fee. The members also appreciated the updates following the Enlarged Board of Appeal’s decision G 1/21.

In the PCT-EPO Guidelines, Part A, which has been expanded by two new sections, received the most comments. Many of the members’ proposals were adopted or further clarified during the meeting.

The EPO will soon publish the consultation results of this year’s meetings with the SACEPO WP/G on a dedicated webpage.

About the Guidelines revision

The EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines are revised annually, taking into account Enlarged Board of Appeal decisions, comments received during the annual user consultation conducted in the spring, as well as feedback from the SACEPO WP/G. The Guidelines 2024 will enter into force on 1 March 2024, with a preview version available from February. Once published, the public will be invited to provide feedback via user consultation.