19 November 2020
The SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines (WPG) met for the fifth time during this revision cycle on 27 October 2020 via videoconference (VICO) to conclude the final content preparations for the next edition of the Guidelines for Examination in the EPO ("EPC Guidelines") and the Guidelines for Search and Examination at the EPO as PCT Authority ("PCT-EPO Guidelines") to be published in March 2021.
This final meeting was preceded by the first-ever public user consultation on the Guidelines 2019, as well as two main and two extraordinary meetings with members of the SACEPO WPG and experts in the fields of biotechnology and computer-implemented inventions (CII) in November 2019, May 2020 and June 2020. The results of the discussions were introduced into a first draft of the Guidelines 2021 that was reviewed and commented on by the SACEPO WPG members over the summer.
The discussions on 27 October 2020 focussed on the approximately 100 comments gathered by the epi on this first draft of the EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines. The final edition of the EPO Guidelines 2021 will be prepared based on the results of this consultation.
Accordingly, the Guidelines 2021 will reflect recent changes to the EPO's practice, e.g. in respect of oral proceedings held by VICO, suggestions from the SACEPO WPG members and comments received in the public user consultation that was run during March and April 2020. Where feasible, aspects of the convergence of practice were already taken into consideration for the Guidelines 2021. As usual, recent developments in technologies such as biotechnology and computer-implemented inventions (CII) were followed with great interest. As in many previous meetings, collaboration between the SACEPO WPG members and the EPO proved to be constructive and very fruitful.
The consolidated final version of the next edition of the EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines will enter into force in March 2021. At the same time the Guidelines revision cycle will start anew by launching the next public online user consultation on the EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines 2021.
Detailed information on the publication of the EPO Guidelines 2021 and the next public user consultation will be published in good time in the Official Journal and on the EPO website.