Notice from the European Patent Office dated 12 December 2022 concerning the updating of the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office
By decision of the President of the EPO dated 12 December 2022 and pursuant to Article 10(2) EPC, the Guidelines for Examination in the European Patent Office (EPC Guidelines) have been amended in line with the EPO's policy to provide an annual update. The amended EPC Guidelines, which will enter into force on 1 March 2023, will be published as a complete March 2023 edition that will supersede the March 2022 edition.
Like the previous editions, these new EPC Guidelines will be published only in electronic form and will be available in all three official languages on the EPO website at epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/guidelines.html, where they can be downloaded free of charge.
The EPC Guidelines will be available in PDF format – as a clean copy and a version showing all modifications – and in HTML format. Within each section of the HTML version, the latest amendments can be viewed by ticking the Show modifications box in the top right-hand corner. A full list of the sections which have been amended, together with corresponding hyperlinks, will also be available.
As a courtesy service, a preview of the English version will be made available on the EPO website at the beginning of February for advance information.
Amendments have been made to all parts of the EPC Guidelines. Some of them result from case law of the EPO boards of appeal, while others are based on decisions of the President and legal or procedural changes; some updates have been made in response to user requests for further clarification of the EPO's practice.
Clarifications and updates regarding the EPO's practice have been added throughout the Guidelines. In particular, Parts A, C and E have been updated to include information about the applicability of new Rule 56a EPC, which entered into force on 1 November 2022.[ 1 ] Part A also reflects the accession of Montenegro to the EPC on 1 October 2022[ 2 ] and the changes resulting from the revised Arrangements for deposit accounts (ADA).[ 3 ] Part F-II now includes a section with details of the nucleotide and amino acid sequences to be included in sequence listings and the technical aspects to be considered when generating a sequence listing complying with WIPO Standard ST.26.[ 4 ] In Part G, information on capturing and storing evidence of multimedia disclosures found on the internet has been added. In addition to covering the transitional measures put in place ahead of the upcoming launch of the unitary patent system,[ 5 ] the new Guidelines also provide information on the legal changes made to support the digital transformation in the EPO's patent grant procedure[ 6 ] and point to changes not yet in force at the time of writing but due to be implemented over the course of this year.
Once the preview version of the 2023 edition is published in February 2023, an online user consultation on the newly published Guidelines will be launched. Detailed information about the online user consultation, which will run until 4 April 2023, will be published on the EPO website (epo.org) at the beginning of February 2023.
[ 1 ] See OJ EPO 2022, A3.
[ 2 ] See OJ EPO 2022, A78.
[ 3 ] See OJ EPO 2022, supplementary publication 3.
[ 4 ] See OJ EPO 2021, A96 and A97.
[ 5 ] See OJ EPO 2022, A102, A104 and A105.
[ 6 ] See OJ EPO 2022, A101, A113 and A114.