Notice from the European Patent Office dated 22 June 2018 concerning the updating of the Guidelines for Search and Examination at the European Patent Office as PCT Authority (PCT-EPO Guidelines)
By decision of the President of the EPO dated 22 June 2018 and pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Search and Examination at the European Patent Office as PCT Authority (PCT-EPO Guidelines) have been amended in line with the EPO's policy of updating them on an annual basis. The amended PCT-EPO 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.
Like the previous editions, the November 2018 edition of the PCT-EPO Guidelines will be published only in electronic form and will be available in all three official languages on the EPO website at , where it can be downloaded free of charge.
In order to serve the public interest in making the amendments available as soon as possible, an advance "preview" version of the PCT-EPO Guidelines in English will be published on the EPO website in October.
Amendments have been made to all parts of the PCT-EPO Guidelines. The major change is the expansion of Part A, which now includes a chapter entitled "Special provisions" (Chapter IV). This new chapter comprises two sections, one dedicated to the PCT Direct service and one to withdrawals. Other amendments to Part A reflect in particular the introduction of credit card as a fee payment method as from 1 December 2017, the changes to the Arrangements for deposit accounts which entered into force on the same date and the fee changes which entered into force on 1 April 2018.
Part B has been updated too, for instance to reflect the fact that the provision of an information sheet on search strategies with all search reports became a permanent service on 1 January 2018. In general, amendments have been made to several parts with a view to clarifying the EPO's practice, for instance to Part G on the topic of assessing the disclosure made by prior-art documents containing errors. Other amendments aim at further improving the text of the previous edition or at updating it, for instance to include the EPO's new Patent Prosecution Highway partner offices or to reflect changes to the applicable legal provisions (e.g. the entry into force on 1 January 2018 of the new Agreement between the European Patent Organisation and the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization in relation to the functioning of the EPO as an International Authority under the PCT).
The content of the PCT-EPO Guidelines will continue to be expanded in the next revision.
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 amendments can be viewed by ticking the "Show modifications" box in the top right-hand corner. On the website there are also two versions in PDF, one showing all modifications and one clean copy.