16 June 2020
Following the online user consultation held earlier this year in March/April, representatives of user associations and other experts have been meeting on 3 occasions these last weeks with EPO management and experts in the framework of the Standing Advisory Committee before the EPO (SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines).
The over 130 responses received in the consultation process have been carefully analysed and assessed, and a host of changes have been proposed and discussed with user representatives. A significant proportion of the responses related to the Parts of the EPC-Guidelines which concern computer-implemented inventions and inventions in the area of biotechnology. Dedicated meetings have therefore been held by video-conference with SACEPO members and ad hoc experts to analyse this feedback and discuss the changes to be made to the Guidelines. Also the Opinion of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of 14 May 2020 on questions related to the patentability of plants and animals has been taken into account in the process, and substantial changes to the relevant Parts of the Guidelines have been agreed with user representatives.
This intensive exchange with users on the EPO Guidelines for the patent grant process is part of a yearly revision cycle which aims at keeping the Guidelines for examination up-to-date with developments in law and practice. Offering users timely opportunities to contribute to the revision of the Guidelines and working together with SACEPO members on the precise wording of particular Parts has proved crucial for enhancing not only transparency but also legal certainty and the high quality of EPO products and services. After completion of the present revision cycle, the revised Guidelines will enter in force on 1 March 2021.