The Guidelines for Examination give instructions on the practice and procedure to be followed in the various aspects of the examination of European applications and patents in accordance with the European Patent Convention and its Implementing Regulations.
By decision of the President of the EPO dated 16 December 2021 and pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Examination have been amended. As announced in the Notice from the EPO dated 16 December 2021 (OJ EPO 2022, A10), the new Guidelines apply as from 1 March 2022.
The Guidelines have the following eight-part structure:
Part A outlines the procedures for formalities examination, mainly with regard to grant proceedings. Part B deals with search matters. Parts C and D relate to procedures to be followed in examination and opposition proceedings, respectively.
Part E summarizes procedural matters relevant to several or all of the stages in proceedings before the EPO. It also contains information about the procedure before the EPO as designated or elected Office, applicable to Euro-PCT applications.
Substantive requirements of the procedures under the EPC are explained in Parts F, G and H:
The EPO actively seeks feedback on the most recent edition of the Guidelines in a public user consultation each spring, but users are welcome to send suggestions for additions or improvements at any time of the year to firstname.lastname@example.org
The revised Guidelines for Examination (March 2022) are available online in the EPO's three official languages in both HTML and PDF format. The printed version has been discontinued.
Amendments in the 2022 revision have been made in all eight parts in order to bring the text into line with legal and procedural developments.
The amendments can be viewed in the HTML publication by ticking the "Show modifications" box in the upper right corner, which displays inserted text with a green background and deleted text in red strikethrough font. For sections in which no changes have been made, the tick box is greyed out. The EPO website also provides downloadable versions of the Guidelines in PDF format as clean copy and as version showing all modifications.
The HTML and PDF versions contain:
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Important notice: The March 2022 edition of the Guidelines is the only valid official version, and supersedes the March 2021 edition as from 1 March 2022.