EUROPEAN PATENT CONVENTION 1973: Implementing Regulations: PART III - IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS TO PART III OF THE CONVENTION, Chapter II - Provisions governing the application, Rule 29 - Form and content of claims

Rule 29

Form and content of claims

Art. 78, 84
R. 36

(1)48 The claims shall define the matter for which protection is sought in terms of the technical features of the invention. Wherever appropriate claims shall contain:

(a) a statement indicating the designation of the subject-matter of the invention and those technical features which are necessary for the definition of the claimed subject-matter but which, in combination, are part of the prior art;

(b) a characterising portion - preceded by the expression "characterised in that" or "characterised by" - stating the technical features which, in combination with the features stated in sub-paragraph (a), it is desired to protect.

(2)49 Without prejudice to Article 82, a European patent application may contain more than one independent claim in the same category (product, process, apparatus or use) only if the subject-matter of the application involves one of the following:

(a) a plurality of inter-related products;

(b) different uses of a product or apparatus;

(c) alternative solutions to a particular problem, where it is not appropriate to cover these alternatives by a single claim.

(3) Any claim stating the essential features of an invention may be followed by one or more claims concerning particular embodiments of that invention.

(4) Any claim which includes all the features of any other claim (dependent claim) shall contain, if possible at the beginning, a reference to the other claim and then state the additional features which it is desired to protect. A dependent claim shall also be admissible where the claim it directly refers to is itself a dependent claim. All dependent claims referring back to a single previous claim, and all dependent claims referring back to several previous claims, shall be grouped together to the extent and in the most appropriate way possible.

(5) The number of the claims shall be reasonable in consideration of the nature of the invention claimed. If there are several claims, they shall be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals.

(6) Claims shall not, except where absolutely necessary, rely, in respect of the technical features of the invention, on references to the description or drawings. In particular, they shall not rely on such references as: "as described in part ... of the description", or "as illustrated in figure ... of the drawings".

(7) If the European patent application contains drawings, the technical features mentioned in the claims shall preferably, if the intelligibility of the claim can thereby be increased, be followed by reference signs relating to these features and placed between parentheses. These reference signs shall not be construed as limiting the claim.

48  See decisions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal G 1/03, G 2/03 (Annex I).

49 Amended by decision of the Administrative Council of 13.12.2001 which entered into force on 02.01.2002 (OJ EPO 2002, 2 ff).

Cross-reference list
R. 29 R. 43

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