7 June 2021
The SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines held its 21st meeting on 20 May, discussing 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). It was the first meeting of the working party in its new composition, now also including members of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI), the Union of European Practitioners in Intellectual Property (UNION-IP) and the International Federation of Intellectual Property Attorneys (FICPI). The SACEPO Working Party on Guidelines meets at least twice a year to discuss practice at the EPO as described in the EPC and PCT-EPO Guidelines.
The working party discussed almost 200 user comments, some of them very extensive. The majority of the comments related to the EPC Guidelines and were mainly about biotechnology issues and the EPO's clarified practice regarding the adaptation of patent application descriptions. Overall, users appreciated the Guidelines' generally high quality standard.
Further discussions focused on an improved schedule for the Guidelines' revision cycle. In particular, the working party embraced the EPO's proposal to extend the public user consultation by a month, meaning that it will now run from pre-publication of the Guidelines in February each year until mid-April.
The working party will next meet on 28 October 2021 to discuss the draft Guidelines 2022 and agree on further improvements before they enter into force on 1 March 2022.